UF Sharps Injuries Decline in 2014
All needle-sticks/sharps injuries and splashes of potentially infectious material to mucous membranes are reported to the Workers’ Compensation Office and subsequently tracked by the Biosafety Office (Figure 1). These types of incidents constitute a major risk for exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens (BBPs). In 2014 there were 124 needle-stick/sharps injuries at UF, the lowest incidence in the last 9 years and significantly down from the 164 reported the previous year. In contrast, the number of splash exposures increased from 22 exposures in 2013 to 30 in 2014.
Despite the encouraging reduction in sharps injuries in 2014, BBP exposures continue to be an issue, especially in the clinical setting. As shown in Figure 2, the majority of sharps injuries occurred during surgery or surgery-related invasive procedures (46%). Placement of in-line catheters, blood draws, and injections, combined, led to 24% of the sharps injuries. An additional 10% of injuries were inflicted by a fellow worker. Interestingly, the source of 9% of the reported sharps injuries was unknown to the victim. All exposures and incidents should continue to be reported so that trends or problems associated with particular procedures, specialties, or equipment can be identified and addressed.
To minimize occupational hazards from needle-sticks and splashes, BBP training must be completed annually. Please stay safe, continue to report and reduce exposures, and remember to:
- Follow universal precautions when handling all human source material
- Employ safe handling practices with sharps, e.g. not recapping needles, disposing of sharps directly into a sharps container, not overfilling the sharps container, etc.
- Use sharps with passively-activated safety devices whenever possible
- Wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including eye protection, masks, and gloves
- Seek immediate medical treatment for BBP exposures; antiviral therapy is most effective when administered right away