Patient Care Unit » Needlestick/Sharps Injuries

Nursing staff are the employees most frequently injured from needlesticks (Exposure Prevention Information Network (EPINet)). Data show needlestick injuries occur most frequently in patient rooms.


Exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) from needlestick injuries due to:

  • Unsafe needle devices
  • Improper handling and disposal of needles

Requirements under OSHA's Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030

  • Use safer needle devices and needleless devices to decrease needlestick or other sharps exposures. See Safer Needle Devices section.
  • Proper handling and disposal of needles and other sharps according to the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard can help prevent needlestick injuries.

Use engineering controls (e.g., safer needle devices) and work practice controls (e.g., altering the way a task is performed to reduce chance of injury such as prohibiting recapping of needles by a two-handed technique) to eliminate or minimize exposures to bloodborne pathogens. [29 CFR 1910.1030(c), 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)].

OSHA requires employers to ensure that the biosafety officer or other responsible person conducts an exposure determination to determine the exposure of workers to blood or OPIM throughout the hospital setting. [29 CFR 1910.1030(c)(2)(i)].

Additional Information

Take precautions with respect to all contaminated sharps, not just needles. "Contaminated Sharps" means any contaminated object that can penetrate the skin including, but not limited to, needles, scalpels, broken glass, broken capillary tubes, and exposed ends of dental wires. [29 CFR 1910.1030(b)]


Exposure to blood and OPIM through contaminated sharps, such as:

  • I.V. Connectors that use needle systems.
  • Disposable razors that could be contaminated.

Follow requirements of the Bloodborne Standard (29 CFR 1910.1030) with respect to all "contaminated sharps." For example:

Additional Information