How To Protect Yourself From Needle Injuries
Here’s how you can can protect yourself from needle injuries while administering COVID-19 vaccines or while helping at vaccination sites. The CDC defines “sharps” as objects that can pierce the skin (for example, contaminated syringes and needles, lancets, scalpels, infusion needle sets, connection needles, auto injectors), as defined in the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens standard.
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- Place sharps disposal containers as close as possible to you or within arm’s reach. When a wall mount is not possible, set the container on a table or a cart in an upright position (preferably secured). Do not place sharps disposal containers on the floor or the ground.
- Immediately after you use a sharp, engage any safety feature, and place it in a sharps disposal container that is closable, puncture-resistant, leakproof on the sides and bottom, and biohazard-labeled or color-coded.
- Do not remove, recap, break, or bend contaminated needles or separate contaminated needles from syringes before discarding them into a sharps disposal container as this increases the risk of a needlestick injury and a bloodborne pathogen exposure. Best practice is to immediately place the connected needle and syringe into the sharps disposal container.
- Use sharps containers to dispose of needles and other sharps contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material.
- Close the container when it is filled to the clearly marked fill line or when it is ¾ full if it has no fill line.
- Do not overfill sharps disposal containers—even during supply shortages—as this increases the risk of a needlestick injury and a bloodborne pathogen exposure.
Sharps Disposal Containers Keep You Safe From Needle Injuries
- Place only needles and sharps in sharps disposal containers.
- Do not put anything in sharps disposal containers that can be placed in regular waste containers (such as uncontaminated trash, gauze, alcohol pads, needle caps, and gloves).
- Place non-sharp, contaminated material, such as gauze contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material, in a red biohazard waste disposal bag.
- Follow your local guidelines for proper disposal methods. Visit https://safeneedledisposal.org