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Sharps Safety Awareness Month

December 19, 2014

Needlestick and sharps injuries are widely recognised as one of the most significant occupational hazards that healthcare workers are exposed to on a daily basis. Each needlestick or sharps injury puts the professional, patient or relative at risk of acquiring a potentially life-threatening bloodborne disease such as hepatitis B or C, or HIV/AIDS.

Over the past few decades, there has been a concerted effort to take measures that protect healthcare workers from this danger, and even prevent them happening in the first place. A number of organisations and bodies have run campaigns, measures and initiatives to try and reduce the number of workers suffering injuries within the workplace.

The International Sharps Injury Prevention Society (ISIPS) was one of the main contributors to this action.

Along with ISIPS, the Alliance for Sharps Safety and Needlestick Prevention in Healthcare has also campaigned to raise the awareness of the dangers of needle and medical sharp injuries in the workplace, as well as encouraging reform and change in legislation to improve prevention.

Bodies like ISIPS and the Alliance aim to achieve this goal through a number of different approaches:


Making sure that every single healthcare worker in hospitals and medical settings are trained to the highest degree in terms of needlestick safety is a massive part of campaign work. This must be delivered to new staff when they join an organisation, but there should also be a system in place to ensure employees get refresher courses after a certain period of time. Care should also be taken to make sure this training remains in-line with the latest guidance or legislation.

It's also important to ensure that this training is constantly improved and consultations are held on how this can be best achieved.


Having access to reliable data is one of the best ways that reducing and preventing needlestick injuries can be achieved. However, there remains a big problem with underreporting of these incidents, as well as there being a stigma associated with those who do. Bodies often campaign for the mandatory collection of surveillance data for occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, which is consistent across both public and private sectors. This will help monitor the number of needlestick and sharps injuries, as well as seeing the impact of relevant outcomes for healthcare employees.


Updating, improving and innovating the national and international regulations that help protect healthcare workers from injuries or reduce the risk, is another driving force behind a number of campaigner initiatives. This directly influences how staff will perform and command themselves during the working day, especially in terms of use of safety devices and infection control practices.

December is Sharps Safety Awareness Month and there is no better time than to ensure the sharps safety policy of your organisation is up-to-date. It's also important for healthcare workers themselves to be confident in their own training and knowledge in the area, especially in terms of using, preparing and disposing of safety devices.

Related Legislation and Guidelines: