Safety, Health and Wellbeing

Needlestick injury

Our role is to develop and assist in the implementation of the UWA safety, health and wellbeing programs in order to minimise the risk of injury, illness and property damage.

We provide consultancy and other services to promote best practice and legislative compliance in all University and related activities.

Needlestick injuries are a significant concern due to the potential of contracting diseases such as hepatitis B and C and HIV.

  1. Procedures
  2. Coverage for medical expenses



It is important University personnel are aware of safe disposal procedures for needles and syringes and emergency action to take in the event of a needlestick injury.

Procedures

If a person sustains a needlestick injury:

  • Administer appropriate first aid for any bleeding or embedded object. Gain assistance from a first aid attendant as required.
  • Wash the wound or skin sites thoroughly with soap and water or use a waterless cleanser or antiseptic if water is unavailable. Apply a waterproof dressing as necessary, and apply pressure through the dressing if bleeding is still occurring.
    Do not squeeze or rub the injury site.
  • If blood or blood products make contact with eyes, rinse the eyes gently but thoroughly (remove contact lenses), for at least 30 seconds, with water or normal saline.
  • If blood or body fluids are sprayed into the mouth, spit out and then rinse the mouth with water several times.
  • If any clothing is contaminated, remove and shower if necessary.
  • Identify the source individual or the source of the sharp if possible and assess the risk status of the source individual.
  • All staff and students who sustain a sharps injury in which there is any risk of contamination must either attend the University Medical Centre or a medical practitioner for assessment advice and if necessary, counselling.
  • If a source individual is identified, they should be strongly encouraged to undergo blood testing.
  • Report the incident to your supervisor and complete a Confidential Needlestick/Sharps Injury or Exposure to Body Fluid Report Form as soon as practicable.
  • After hours - follow the above procedure, if needing assistance call the UWA emergency number (+61 8)6488 222
  • The medical practitioner will assess the level of risk to determine further medical management. For further information relating to exposure classifications, risk factors and
    detailed management of needlestick injuries refer to: Government of Western Australia - Department of Health 'Management of Occupational Exposure to Blood or Body Fluid in the Healthcare setting'. The document provides information on:
    • Risk assessment and classification of occupational exposure (Appendix A)
    • Exposure management (Appendix B)
    • Exposure Management flowchart (Appendix C)
    • HIV specialists and HIV post exposure prophylaxis (Appendix D)
  • If the source is unable to be identified, any follow-up will depend on the type of exposure, the likelihood of the source being positive for blood pathogen and the prevalence of blood-borne infections in the community from which the needles or instruments come.
  • The risk of tetanus should also be determined as the person may require either tetanus immunoglobulin, a course of adult diphtheria and tetanus (ADT) or an ADT booster.

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Coverage for medical expenses

Staff who sustain a 'sharps injury' from a contaminated or potentially contaminated source while undertaking work related duties will be asked to lodge a workers' compensation application to enable medical bills to be paid.

For injured students, either partial or full costs may be recoverable from Medicare – Refer to the Group Personal Accident Plan.

For further enquiries, contact Safety, Health and Wellbeing on (+61 8) 6488 3938.

Should you become aware that discarded needles and syringes are becoming a problem within your area please report it to:

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