Responsibilities for sharps management

      1. Responsibilities for sharps management

Responsibilities for sharps management

Employers are responsible for minimising workplace hazard and risk under work health and safety legislation.

While the risk of sharps injury will vary between staff members, it will never be eliminated for all. Therefore, risks must be strategically managed. The infection prevention and control coordinator must take an active role in sharps management to reduce risk without compromising patient safety or quality of care.

An organisation-wide approach to sharps management includes training and education on the risks associated with procedures and devices, as well as implementing safer working practices.

All individuals in the practice are responsible for:

  • being familiar with protocols for handling and disposal of sharps and following them correctly (including users disposing of their own sharps)
  • knowing which sharps incidents are notifiable under relevant legislation as exposure incidents, and knowing who to report to within the practice (see Exposure to blood and other body substances)
  • reporting needlestick injuries or other sharps-related injuries immediately as relevant (eg to the infection control coordinator or other designated staff member on duty)
  • making sure anyone with a sharps injury receives appropriate first aid, assessment, and follow-up care (see Exposure to blood and other body substances), and that the source patient is assessed immediately, if known  If the source is unknown, risk assessment is based on the location of the sharp, whether it is solid or hollow, and the size (eg syringe gauge). An unknown source should generally be assumed to be positive for blood-borne viruses.
  • making sure they are vaccinated against hepatitis B and have sufficient immunity (see Staff immunisation policy and procedures)
  • participating in education sessions and professional development sessions on handling sharps, as well as those on the use of new safety devices.