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Laboratory Sharps: Handling and
Disposal
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Environmental Health, Safety, & Risk
Management
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November 2010
Overview
 Scope and purpose of training
 What is a laboratory sharp?
 Proper handling of sharps
 Safe disposal of sharps
 Procedures to follow in the event of a sharps injury
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Scope and purpose
 Sharps can cause injuries ranging from punctures to cuts, and
proper care must be taken when using and disposing of them
in the laboratory.
 Sharps such as needles and Pasteur pipets may be contaminated
with chemical residue, thus resulting in a chemical exposure for
a person who is punctured or cut by the item.
 This training applies to all laboratory personnel using sharps,
regardless of whether or not they are working with infectious
agents, blood, or other body secretions (human or animal).
 All sharps represent an injury hazard, regardless of what they
were used for.
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What is a laboratory sharp?
 Common sharps found in laboratories include:
 Needles and syringes
 Scalpel blades
 Razor blades
 Microscope slides and coverslips
 Pasteur pipets
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Tips for handling and using sharps
 To help reduce the risk of sharps injuries, heed the following work
practices:
 Organize your work space so that all materials for the experiment
are ready and available before accessing the sharp device.
 This helps reduce the chance of having to set an exposed needle
down on the lab bench in order to retrieve other necessary
supplies, for example.
 Be prepared to use the device the moment the sharp is exposed
(e.g., when the needle is uncapped, the razor blade removed from
its wrapper)
 Make sure you have adequate lighting to perform the task
involving the sharp.
 Locate your sharps container in your workspace.
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Tips for handling and using sharps (cont.)
 Safe work practices (cont.)
 Keep exposed sharps pointed away from yourself and others.
 Never directly hand an exposed sharp to another person.
 Instead, designate a “sharps passing zone” where exposed
sharps are set down prior to being picked up by another
person.
 Be accountable for the sharps you use.
 Look around after you complete your work and make sure
that all sharps have been disposed of properly.
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Proper handling of needles and
razor blades
 Observing some simple rules will help keep you safe while
handling needles and razor blades:
 Never bend, break, or shear needles
 Never remove needles from syringe barrels
 Never recap needles after using
 Never reuse razor blades
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Safe disposal of sharps
 Needles (and syringe barrels), disposable scalpels, and razor blades
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should be placed in an appropriate sharps container.
 Appropriate containers are:
 Made of puncture-resistant plastic or other material
 Closeable
 Leak-proof on sides and bottoms
 Microscope slides, cover slips, and glass Pasteur pipets:
 If slides, cover slips, and/or glass Pasteur pipets are
contaminated with infectious agents or potentially infectious
materials, dispose in sharps container (should be labeled
“Biohazard”)
 If slides, cover slips, and/or glass Pasteur pipets are NOT
contaminated with infectious agents or potentially infectious
materials, they should be disposed of in a broken glass box
Safe disposal of sharps (cont.)
 To avoid injuries from sharps:
 Never reach into a sharps disposal container or broken glass box
 Never remove the lid from the container
 Never force materials into the container
 Never overfill the container
 Some sharps containers are pre-marked with “fill lines”
 If no fill line is marked, then fill container no more than ¾
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full
 What NOT to put in your sharps container or broken glass box:
 Microfuge tubes
 Unused chemical solutions
 Sharps are disposed of in a different manner from hazardous
wastes. Please do not mix the two.
Safe disposal of sharps (cont.)
 When your sharps container is full, contact UAF EHS&RM
Hazmat to schedule a pickup (474-5617 or 474-5476).
 A Hazardous Waste Transfer form and sticker are NOT
required.
 Purchase of sharps containers is the responsibility of the
laboratory.
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Procedures to follow in the event of a
sharps injury
 If you are injured by a sharp, no matter how minor the injury, you
must immediately report it to your supervisor.
 Complete a UAF Accident/Incident report for all injuries,
regardless of severity.
 You can obtain the form here:
http://www.uaf.edu/files/safety/incidentreport.pdf
 Notify the UAF Biosafety Officer/Industrial Hygienist
immediately in order to determine what, if any, medical
surveillance or care may be necessary.
 474-6771
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Questions?
Contact the UAF Biosafety Officer
at 474-6771, or
[email protected]
Thank you!
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