SHARPS are needles, blades (such as scalpels) and other medical instruments that are necessary for carrying out medical or healthcare work and could cause an injury by cutting, pricking or breaking the skin.

Not only are employers and contractors working in the healthcare sector affected by the regulations. Health and safety legislation requires employers across all industry sectors to have an effective action plan and process to control the risk from SHARPS’ injuries, in particular::

  • Have effective arrangements for the safe use and disposal (including using 'safer SHARPS' where reasonably practicable, restricting the practice of recapping of needles and placing SHARPS bins close to the point of use)
  • Provide the necessary information and training to workers
  • Investigate and take action in response to work related SHARPS’ injuries

Disposing of SHARPS

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health COSHH guidance, clearly marked and secure waste containers (often referred to as s SHARPS boxes or bins) should be placed close to the area where SHARPS are used.

Instructions for staff on the safe use of the boxes should be provided.

Field staff such as those working in a patient’s home should be risk assessed to ensure that they have safe working procedures which may include suitable portable SHARPS’ containers and adequate arrangements in the event of an injury.

A system for the collection and appropriate disposal of SHARPS waste boxes and the appointment of a SHARPS disposal contractor should also be implemented.

Chemical & Biological Hazards Guide

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