Sharps Safety

Needles, syringes and other "sharps" (scalpels, razor blades, slides and cover slips, microtome blades) are used in many labs. They are used with biological, chemical and radiological hazardous materials. It is important to use good lab work practices when handling this equipment and to dispose of them properly.

Do not recap needles. If recapping is required for the procedure being done, use a mechanical device such as tongs or forceps, a recapping device or one-hand scoop method to recap needle. Never recap needles using one hand to hold the cap and the other to hold the needle! Do not recap needles prior to disposal. They must be disposed of directly into an appropriate sharps container.

How can you protect yourself from sharps injuries?

  • Avoid the use of needles if safe and effective alternatives are available.
  • Select, evaluate and use devices with safety features that reduce the risk of needlestick injury.
  • Do not recap needles.
  • Plan for safe handling and disposal of needles before using them.
  • Locate sharps containers as close as possible to the area where they are used.
  • Promptly dispose of used sharps in appropriate sharps disposal container.
  • Put uncapped needles in rigid tray or insert needle into cork ring or styrofoam block if reusing the device during procedure.
  • Report all needlestick and sharps-related injuries promptly to ensure that you receive appropriate follow-up care.
  • Substitute plasticware for glass whenever possible.
  • Follow safety guidelines for all sharps hazards (razor blades, scalpels, slides, microtome blades).
  • Participate in training.

Always dispose of needles and other regulated sharps in a rigid, puncture resistant container immediately after use. Additional information on proper disposal and definitions of a "regulated sharp" can be found on the Sharps Waste page.

Non-regulated sharps (not contaminated with infectious material; excludes needles/syringes) and broken glassware must be handled safely and disposed of in containers that will prevent injuries to anyone else handling the container. Heavy duty plastic containers or cardboard boxes labeled "sharp" or "broken glass" and securely taped closed are acceptable.

Radioactive Sharps must be disposed of in Radioactive labeled sharps container. All isotopes can be mixed in the sharps container. It is not required to segregate needles by isotope. Call RPS for pick-up. (2-9680). Wipe test results of the exterior of the container must be less than 200dpm/100cm2.

Sharps Safety Handout