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sharps needlesticks feature

Needle Stick Injuries Portsmouth

SHARPS / Needle Stick Injuries in Portsmouth

What is a SHARPS Injury?

A SHARPS injury is a penetrating stab wound from a needle, scalpel or any other sharp object that may result in exposure to blood or other body fluids.

Percutaneous Exposure is when the skin of the person is cut or penetrated by a needle or other sharp object e.g. scalpel blade, trochar, bone fragment or tooth. Which is contaminated with blood or bodily fluid from a patient or other person

Mucocutaneous Exposure is where the mucous membranes i.e., mouth, nose or eyes or non-intact skin have been contaminated by blood or bodily fluids from a patient or other person.

Risks From A Sharps Injury:

The main risks from a sharps injury are the potential exposure to infections such as blood-borne viruses (BBV). This can occur when the injury involves a sharp that is contaminated with blood or bodily fluids from a patient. The blood-borne viruses of most concern are:

  • Hepatitis B (HBV)
  • Hepatitis C (HCV)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

The transmission of infection depends on several factors, including the person’s natural immune system. The number of Sharp injuries each year is high, but only a small number are known to have caused infections that led to serious illness. However, the effects of the injury and anxiety about its potential consequences, including the adverse side effects of post-exposure prophylaxis can have a significant personal impact on an injured employee.

What to Do if You Receive a SHARPS Injury?

1. Allow the puncture site to bleed (do not squeeze or suck).

2. Wash the wound / exposed area with soap and water (do not scrub) if clean water is not available use cleansing wipes from a first aid kit.

3. Dry the wound and cover with a waterproof plaster or dressing.

4. If a splash to the eyes occurs– immediately irrigate the eyes with sterile water (before and after contact lenses removal).

5. Report to your manager and PHU OH department at 02392 283689.

6. Out of hours – attend the local emergency department (must be reported to PHU OH Department the following day).

7. Complete Adverse Incident Form (Datix for NHS Employees).

8. HIV Post Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) may be required if the source patient is HIV positive. This should be given within 1 hour of the incident (but can be given up to 48-72 hours).

9. Condoms should be used if the source patient is positive for blood-borne viruses until follow up blood tests are clear.

Who is at Risk of a SHARPS Injury?

Anyone who encounters sharp instruments previously used on a patient is at risk, this includes those who directly handle sharps but also includes workers who may inadvertently be put at risk when sharps are not stored or disposed of correctly including, but not limited to nurses, doctors, health and social care workers, paramedics, dentists, operating department assistants, phlebotomists, laboratory workers, podiatrists, radiographers, and physiotherapists may also be at risk. Also at risk are ancillary staff who work in healthcare environments or handle healthcare waste or equipment including, but not limited to domestics, porters, laundry workers, maintenance workers etc if needles haven’t been disposed of correctly.

SHARPS Incidents in the Workplace

Workplace Prevention

SHARPS’s injuries and contamination incidents should be prevented wherever possible by appropriate use and implementation of standard precautions such as good hand hygiene, appropriate use of PPE (personal protective equipment), safe handling and disposal of needles and other sharp instruments.

The Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013 outline the following:

The need to avoid the unnecessary use of sharps; use safer sharps which incorporate protection mechanisms; prevent recapping of needles; place secure containers and instructions for safe disposal of medical sharps close to the work area.


Employers’ Responsibility

Employers should be aware of their legal duties under existing legislation and regulations, which emphasise carrying out risk assessments on the prevention of sharps injuries.

Employers should ensure staff are familiar with local policies, procedures and risk assessments and are following safe systems of work. Staff should be able to report any concerns about sharp safety through their local safety representative.

Any staff who are at risk of sustaining a sharps injury should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B.

First Aid

Employers must have first aid procedures in place for Sharp’s incidents so that staff know what to do in the event of an injury and who to report incidents. This applies to all staff at risk of a sharp’s injury, including new, temporary staff, contractors, and students.


Follow Up Appointments

Staff exposed or potentially exposed to the blood-borne virus after a sharps injury may be offered to attend follow up appointments for blood tests depending on the incident and the BBV status of the donor patient/individual involved. Employers should allow the staff member to be released from work to attend follow up appointments and counselling should be available to all staff post sharps incidents


Incident Reporting

It is vital that sharps injuries are reported to ensure that appropriate follow up treatment is given to the injured person if appropriate. The incident also needs to be investigated and preventative measures and training put in place to reduce the risk of further injuries.

Employers must comply with the requirements of Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations (RIDDOR) 2013 relating to sharps injuries and report high risk sharps injuries formally to the HSE. This must be done when the source patient is known to carry a blood-borne virus, or the health care worker develops a virus following a sharps injury.

Items Related to SHARPS Injuries

Common High-Risk SHARPS Items:

  • IV Cannulae
  • Venepuncture
  • Winged steel needles (Butterfly needles)
  • Hypodermic needles and syringes
  • Phlebotomy needles

Common Low-Risk SHARPS Items:

  • Lancets
  • Scalpels
  • Suture needles
  • Razors
  • Scissors
  • Test tubes
  • Fragment of bones or teeth
  • Body fluids (non-blood stained)
  • Broken glass

Our Services & Contacting Us

We offer an annual needlestick SLA service for support to businesses where there is a high risk of SHARPS/ Needlestick injuries such as dental services/ care providers where regular incidents may occur. Please contact our Occupational Health Department for further information on this service.

To reach our Needlesticks Hotline in case of an emergency please call 02392 283689.

Our opening hours are between 08:30 and 16:00 Monday-Friday.

The Occupational Health Department is located off Southwick Hill Road; take the East Gate entrance to QA, then turn right onto Hunter Road directly opposite the turning for Curie Road is the Occupational Health offices entrance.


If the source patient is a carrier of Hepatitis B, the recipient must receive a booster dose of the Hepatitis B vaccine OR if the recipient is unvaccinated, they must commence an accelerated course of Hepatitis B vaccine and be considered for the Hepatitis B immunoglobulin.


QA Hospitals Emergency Department offers 24-hour support for Needlestick injuries on 02392 9228 6366 (Ext 7700 6366) or visit your local hospital. You are required to report the incident to the Occupation Health Department the following day.

Other medical services we can provide

Isocyanates Medicals

This assessment will evaluate if someone is fit to work in certain environments.

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Skin Assessments

These checks will also identify if existing control measures in place are adequate

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Work Health Assessments

We will identify if an employee is fit to undertake night work

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