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Dangers of Sharps

The main risk from a cut or wound caused by a sharp object is exposure to infections, especially blood-borne viruses (BBV). Contracting an infection depends on a number of factors, including the person’s natural immune system. The blood-borne viruses of most concern are:

If a sharp penetrates the skin it will spread blood-borne pathogens; the spread of these pathogens is directly responsible for the transmission of these diseases. Risk of injury can occur from sharps waste if hazardous materials are not separated from normal rubbish and an individual will unknowingly come in contact with it.

In addition, if sharps waste is not disposed of correctly and removed from the environment, it can be subject to reuse and misuse (both intentional and unintentional). This is especially applicable in the areas of hypodermic needles and blades. The spread of disease through sharps waste is preventable through proper management and disposal.

If you suffer an injury from a sharp that is contaminated you will need to do the following: 

  • Encourage the wound to gently bleed, ideally holding it under running water
  • Wash the wound using running water and plenty of soap
  • Don’t scrub the wound whilst you are washing it
  • Don’t suck the wound
  • Dry the wound and cover it with a waterproof plaster or dressing
  • Seek urgent medical advice, as effective prophylaxis (medicines to help fight infection) are available
  • Report the injury to your employer if necessary