'Sharps', refer to any object that can pierce or penetrate the skin easily. They include ice picks, broken glass and needles. Workers may be required to:
- dispose of needles that are found in toilets or carparks or
- clean up broken glass that has been contaminated with blood.
Ways to control hazards
- train staff in safe working practices to prevent skin penetrating injuries from sharps (e.g. workers should be instructed not to manually compress garbage bags or place their hands into areas where their hands are not visible, such as into garbage bags or behind toilet cisterns)
- develop procedures for the safe handling and disposal of sharps and instruct workers accordingly
- provide a sharps disposal kit containing disposable gloves, appropriate tongs and a rigid-walled, puncture resistant sharps container
- install features that deter sharps concealment and encourage responsible sharps disposal (e.g. adequate lighting and provision of sharps containers)
- keep a register of where sharps are located so that 'hot spots' can be identified for further action
- undertake regular surveillance activities to ensure prompt detection and disposal of sharps
- provide appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. sturdy gloves for garbage collection).
Employers should also provide information and training on:
- relevant infectious diseases, including how they are transmitted and their prevention
- infection control practices and procedures, including hand hygiene
- correct use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- management of a blood or body fluid exposure and skin penetrating injury, including first aid, medical referral and access to counselling
- incident reporting, recording and investigation.
If a risk assessment indicates that workers have regular contact with blood and body fluids and/or discarded needles, hepatitis B vaccination may be required.