How can I reduce the risk of a needlestick injury?

Most needlestick injuries are preventable.

Safer needle devices – such as needles that retract into the syringe after use, needles with a protective shield, or devices that do not use needles at all – are now widely available. Hepatitis and HIV are covered under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH), so your employer must assess the risk of infection and control that risk. There is a 'hierarchy of control' in COSHH, and this means that wherever possible, your employer must eliminate the hazard at source. For needlesticks, this means using safer needle devices.

As well as using safer needle devices, your employer should:

  • make sure you are properly trained;
  • make sure a sharps disposal bin is close at hand (many needlestick injuries happen while needles are passed from one member of staff to another). All sharps boxes should meet British Standard BS7320; and
  • make sure you wear gloves (but remember that latex gloves can cause serious allergies).
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.