Sharps injuries


Accidents that cause a sharps injury can have serious consequences and it’s important that you know what you should do in the event of one occurring.

If a used needle puncture’s or pierces your skin, you should:

  • Run the wound under water to encourage the wound to bleed
  • wash the wound under clean, running water and use plenty of soap to clean the area.
  • Once washed, you should dry the affected area and cover it with a waterproof dressing or plaster.

If you experience a sharps injury, you must never:

  • Suck the wound
  • scrub at the wound when you are washing

After you have cleaned and dressed the wound, you might need treatment to reduce the chance of getting an infection. Therefore, you should seek urgent medical advice by contacting your employer’s occupational health service and should report the injury to your employer.


Reporting a Sharps injury

Your employer is required to provide you with enough information and training so that you understand the specific company procedures that you must follow in the event of an emergency

This must include how you report an incident, what actions you should expect your organization to take when responding to an injury and what prophylaxis treatments are available to you. If you have any sharps related accident, you must follow the procedures that your employer has outlined for you and report your accident correctly and promptly.

Following your report to your employer, they are then required by the HSE a to report the injury under the reporting of injuries, diseases and dangerous occurrences regulations 2013 RIDDOR if:

  • The sharp you were injured with is known to be contaminated with a BBV.
  • The BBV you acquire through a sharps injury seroconverts. This means that your body has started to produce antibodies to the BBV that can be detected in blood tests. In this event, the case must be reported as A disease.
  • The Sharps injury is so severe that it meets the requirements for reporting under RIDDOR.

Sharps injuries happen too often yet ensuring that staff are properly trained and follow safe working practices can prevent a large number of accidents.

Additionally, under the COSHH Regulations, your employer is legally required to introduce a safer sharps alternatives, when reasonably practicable to do so, to reduce the number of incidents. A safer sharp is a sharp that has engineering controls built into the device to prevent sharps injuries.

When safer sharps are being chosen, your employer should consider the following factors

  • How reliable is the device?
  • will using the safer device compromise patient care in anyway?
  • can the caregiver maintain appropriate control over the procedure with the new device?
  • does the new device create any additional safety hazards or sources of blood exposure?
  • how easy is the new sharp to use?