Blog Archives

Sharps Removal

Sharps should only be removed by:

An outside agency- such as the local authority or a specialist contractor.

An appointed person- someone who is trained and competent to remove sharps.

  • Sharps are classified as hazardous waste and should never be disposed of in a skip or with household waste.
  • Sharps must be disposed of in rigid yellow sharps containers conforming to UN 3291 & BS7320:1990.
  • To prevent the risks associated with overfilling the containers should only be used until ¾ full.
  • Used containers must be sealed and held securely while awaiting collection.
  • Sharp containers should be stored away from the public and out of reach for children.
  • Most local authorities will dispose of sharps free of charge or you can arrange for collection by a registered waste carrier.
  • Clinical waste such as sharps is normally incinerated.


Here is a Guide to Hazardous Waste.


Employee responsibilities

Employee responsibilities are:

  • Ensure you have received sharps training and that a risk assessment has been carried out.
  • Be alert! Look for obvious needles before handling waste.
  • Always wear suitable gloves – even when using tools to move needles. Don’t rely on gloves to give total protection, but they can help stop punctures through accidental contact.
  • Don’t try to re-sheath or break needles.
  • Pick up by barrel and not by needle using tongs, needle proof gloves or dust pan and brush.
  • Place needles in a sharps box – take the sharps box to the needle, not the needle to the sharps box.
  • Try to put the sharps box on an even surface before opening it to put the needle in.
  • Do not overfill sharps boxes or try to push the contents down.
  • Before disposal, seal boxes and dispose of them in line with your organisation’s instructions.
  • Inform your line managers of any needles you have found as soon as possible.




Employer responsibilities

Remember, the law places responsibility for Health and Safety on both employers and employees.


The most significant regulations are The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002, the Health and Safety Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

Employer responsibilities are:

  • Ensure a full risk assessment has been carried out to identify hazards, decide who might be harmed and evaluate risks and decide on precautions.
  • Provide training for all personnel who are likely to be working with sharps or who will be responsible for their removal.
  • Inform employees they should assume any discarded needles could potentially be infected and treat accordingly.
  • Provide suitable puncture/cut-resistant gloves and clothing to help protect hands, arms and legs;
  • Provide appropriate tools for picking up needles, e.g. tongs/tweezers/dustpan brush;
  • Provide an appropriate, secure container (UN standard 3291& BS 7320) for sharps disposal and have a policy and procedure in place for their safe disposal;
  • Provide appropriate first-aid equipment and details of the nearest accident and emergency department;
  • Offer hepatitis B immunisation for staff if the risk assessment warrants it.



* The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, Section 2
The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002


Sharps – First Aid

To deal with a sharps or needle stick injury

  • Encourage the wound to bleed.
  • Do not suck it.
  • Wash the wound using soap and running water, but do not scrub it.
  • If water is not available, use cleansing wipes from a first-aid kit.
  • Cover the wound with a dry plaster/dressing.
  • Seek medical advice immediately – Take the person to the nearest accident and emergency department as soon as the wound has been cleaned and covered, so that an assessment can be made about any further treatment.
  • If safe to do so and in a suitable sharps container, bring the needle to the hospital to help with the assessment.
  • Ensure accident book and incident report forms are completed.


Did you know that if you get treated within 72 hours of exposure-you will receive medication that will give you an 80% chance of not developing a blood borne virus!


Needles have been hidden / concealed to cause deliberate harm to people. These have been found in lift buttons, toilet seats, underneath hand rails, door handles and behind baths and toilets!


Further information on the treatment of needle stick injuries is available here






The main risk from a sharps injury is the potential exposure to infections such as blood-borne viruses (BBV). This can occur where the injury involves a sharp that is contaminated with blood or a bodily fluid.


The actual risk of infection depends on:

  • whether the needle contains blood residues;
  • whether the needle user was infected with hepatitis or HIV viruses;
  • how much infected material enters the bloodstream (e.g. a needle attached to a syringe containing blood is likely to be a higher risk than a detached needle);
  • how infective the material is (viruses will die at differing speeds when outside the body).


The risk of infection can be as high as;

  • 1 in three for hepatitis B
  • 1 in 30 for hepatitis C
  • 1 in 300 for HIV.

Click on each of the headings below to find out more about each potential disease.




A needle stick or ‘sharps’ (e.g. scalpel blade) injury must be reported:



  • when an employee is injured by a needle stick or ‘sharp’ known to be contaminated with a blood-borne virus (BBV). This is reportable as a dangerous occurrence;
  • the injury results in the transmission of a reportable disease (these include HIV, Hepatitis and tetanus)
  • the injury is so severe that the employee is absent from work or unable to undertake their normal duties for seven days (including non-working days) Needle FACTS


Get your Guide to RIDDOR* here.



* Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013


Needle Facts

Needles have been found in 68% of public toilets-2000 found in a public toilet in Sheffield in one year.


Needles have been found on 66% of UK beaches.


Needles have been found in 72% of parks and playing fields.


28 million needles are given out to drug users at needle exchanges every year- only 70% are returned which means 8.5 million needles are unaccounted for!!




What is a Sharp?

A sharp is anything that can puncture, cut, or lacerate the skin i.e.

  • Hypodermic Needle
  • Stanley Knife
  • Razor blades
  • Broken glass


The number of discarded needles found has increased over 40% in recent years and this has caused a sharp increase in the number of needle-stick related injuries.


Needles have been found in many locations including public toilets, refuse and waste including fly tipped rubbish, disused properties and children’s play areas.


Whilst many are carelessly discarded some are left maliciously with the intent on causing harm.


This means that everyone is potentially at risk from a sharps or needle stick injury.





Welcome to this short course on Sharps Awareness


All sharps have the potential to cause injury through cuts or puncture wounds.



In addition, many sharps are contaminated with blood or body fluids, posing a risk of infection or illness if they penetrate the skin.



It is therefore essential to follow safe working procedures when using and disposing of sharps to protect yourself and your colleagues from sharp injuries.



There is also a short assessment at the end.

You will need 5/6 to pass.