The University recognises its legal obligation to provide a safe work environment and that the risk of injury from sharp implements requires specific management and control.
For the purpose of this policy ‘sharps’ includes, syringes, needles, scalpels, razor blades, broken glass or any other sharp implement with the potential to cause a penetrating injury if not handled in a safe manner. Sharps are commonly used during research, undergraduate teaching and in clinical practice.
Sharps can potentially be contaminated with many different types of micro-organisms and while the risk from blood borne viruses such as Human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV), and Hepatitis B and C is generally well known, there are many other micro-organisms that are found in contaminants such as blood, faeces, sewerage, human or animal secretions. Therefore all sharps, unless their origin is known, should be treated as contaminated.
Work practices and the means for safe disposal of sharps is the responsibility of each faculty or work area. Managers and supervisors have a responsibility for informing staff and students on these procedures.
Needles should not be resheathed, unless an appropriate re-capping device is available.
Sharps (needles, scalpel blades, razor blades) are to be disposed of into approved impermeable sharps containers designated for the disposal of sharps.
The containers must comply with AS/NZS 4261 eg. BUNZLE (needles only), or SHARPSAFE types and display the biohazard symbol. Sharps containers must only be filled to 3/4 level or to the manufacturer's instruction.
If a ‘sharp’ is found on the campus, such as in grounds or ablution blocks then call UWA Security immediately on (+61 8) 6488 3020, advising them of the location of the item.
Security staff carry 'sharps' disposal containers in their vehicles. Do not pick up the 'sharps' item. If the source of the broken glass or other sharp objects is not known, assume that it could potentially be contaminated and call Security.
WA Department of Health provide guidance on the safe disposal of needles and syringes.
If you definitely know that the broken glass object is not contaminated it can be picked up while avoiding contact with the skin – use paper or a dustpan and brush. The glass or sharp object should be double-wrapped carefully in paper and disposed of immediately.
Please note that a person who has an open wound/s is at greater risk from infectious agents.
If a person sustains a ‘needlestick/sharps’ injury:
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 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:
National Occupational Health and Safety Commission, National Code of Practice for the Control of Work-related Exposure to Hepatitis and HIV (Blood-borne) Viruses [NOHSC:2010 (2003) ].
Disease Control, Health Department of WA. A management plan for medical practitioners for patients with HIV/AIDS in WA. Produced by Disease Control with assistance from Health Promotion Services, HDWA. 1995.
Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). The Australian immunisation handbook 10th ed (2017 update). Canberra: Australian Government Department of Health, 2017.
Department of Health WA. Management of occupational exposure to blood or body fluids in the healthcare setting policy, December 2015.