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Research Matters

Stop the Sticks: New Guidance on Use of Sharps in the Lab

Needles are the number one cause of exposures in the lab. The Office of Biosafety has new guidance on safe handling of sharps in the lab.

Sharps injuries are a significant hazard for lab personnel. From 2010 to 2014, 81 percent of all laboratory incidents reported to the NIH were from academia and of those academia incidents, 66 percent involved parenteral exposures.

The number one cause of parenteral exposures? You, guessed it…Needles!

In the same 2010-2014 NIH study, 70 percent of all parenteral exposures involved needles. These numbers clearly indicate that sharps injuries are a significant health hazard for those working in laboratories. Reducing sharps injuries in the lab requires a full understanding of how to use, handle and dispose of sharps properly. This can only occur through a shift in an organizations safety culture in the lab.

In an effort to reduce the number of incidents involving sharps on campus, UGA’s Office of Biosafety, with the approval of the Institutional Biosafety Committee, has developed a best practice guidance document regarding the safe handling of sharps. The guidance document,“Guidance for the Safe Handling of Sharps in the Laboratory,” can be found on the Office of Biosafety webpage along with other Biosafety Procedures. Please contact the Office of Biosafety for any questions regarding sharps in the laboratory.

Sharps Common Sense – Top 10

  1. Conduct frequent training on proper sharps use and disposal
  2. Pay special attention when using sharps
  3. Dispose of sharps containers regularly
  4. Don’t place sharps containers next to regular trash cans
  5. Don’t “retrieve” items from sharps containers
  6. Use plastic or sharps with built-in safety features rather than glass
  7. Use blunt end needles when possible
  8. Inspect glassware carefully before use
  9. Properly clean up breakages and equipment
  10. Avoid multiple researchers working in close proximity with sharps