Needles and Sharps Safety
Needlestick injuries and cuts are frequent occurrences in laboratories. For needles contaminated with a toxic chemical or pathogenic organism, the consequences can be serious. You can reduce the likelihood of injuries by limiting the use of syringes and needles. Consider finding alternative procedures or use of a blunt needle. Other safety precautions include:
- Do not recap needles.
- If recapping is necessary, use a one-handed scoop method or a one-handed recapping device. EHS must approve the necessity and method used to recap needles, and you must document the procedures in your Laboratory Safety Plan.
- Do not remove needles from syringes.
- Do not bend, break, or otherwise manipulate needles.
- Discard in puncture resistant containers.
Razor blades are common in laboratories, and are another potential source of injury. Keep razor blades sheathed when not in use. If your lab uses blades that do not have sheaths, use a Styrofoam block, adhesive tack, or other material to prevent exposure to blades between uses. Do not store these blades unprotected on countertops, or in drawers where personnel could reach in and cut their hands. Dispose these blades in appropriate sharps containers; see Chapter 12: Management of Laboratory Wastes for further guidance.