Work Practices Increasing the Risk of Needlestick Injuries

Past studies have shown that needlestick injuries are often associated with these activities:

  • recapping needles
  • transferring a body fluid between containers
  • failing to dispose of used needles properly in puncture-resistant sharps containers

Past studies of needlestick injuries have shown that 10% to 25% occurred when recapping a used needle. Although recapping by hand has been discouraged for some time and is prohibited under the OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard [29 CFR 1910.1030] unless no alternative exists, 5% of needlestick injuries in hospitals are still related to this work practice.

Injury may occur when a health care worker attempts to transfer blood or other body fluids from a syringe to a specimen container (such as a vacuum tube) and misses the target. Also, if used needles or other sharps are left in the work area or are discarded in a sharps container that is not puncture resistant, a needlestick injury may result.