Every year, 2 to 3 billion syringes are used outside of healthcare facilities. Most of these are from insulin injections and illegal drug use. Used syringes are not always disposed of safely. They may be left in public restrooms, parks and recreation areas, or hotel rooms. They may be discarded in the regular trash. Workers who are stuck with used syringes or other contaminated sharps are at risk of contracting HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and other bloodborne infections.
Employers should review their operations. If employees may encounter used syringes or other sharps waste during the course of their work, it is important that they know the hazards of these sharps. They should also know what the medical devices they may encounter look like (for example syringes, hypodermic needles, pen needles, intravenous needles, and lancets).
Employers must plan on the safe handling of sharps waste before it is encountered. It is important that employees know and follow safe work practices to minimize their risk of injuries from needles and other sharps. Below are some suggested work practices:
Employers should develop procedures for handling sharps injuries. Employees stuck by a needle or other sharp should:
Some healthcare professionals may not be familiar with guidelines for the management of occupational exposures to HIV and other bloodborne pathogens. Therefore, the employer should select a knowledgeable healthcare provider for post-exposure management before any injuries occurs.
Anytime there is occupational exposure to blood or other potentially infectious material, Cal/OSHA requires the employer to establish and implement a written Exposure Control Plan. Therefore, employers must develop an Exposure Control Plan if their employees may need to handle sharps waste.
The above evaluations and/or recommendations are for general guidance only and should not be relied upon for legal compliance purposes. They are based solely on the information provided to us and relate only to those conditions specifically discussed. We do not make any warranty, expressed or implied, that your workplace is safe or healthful or that it complies with all laws, regulations or standards.