Sharps are mechanical devices that are used for or have the potential to cut or puncture membranes such as skin. Sharps include but are not limited to needles, scalpels, razor blades, broken glass, scissors, and lancets. Whenever possible find a substitute for all sharps used in the laboratory or engineer this hazard out of current procedures. When sharps must be utilized in the laboratory, it is imperative that individuals are trained on their proper use and disposal.

Sharps Handling Procedures

  • Needles must not be bent, broken, sheared, or otherwise removed prior to disposal
  • Disposable needles may not be reused or recapped. If a specific laboratory procedure requires multiple uses of the same needle then specific SOPs must be adopted in conjunction with the use of an approved re-sheathing needle with a retractable guard.
  • Broken glass should be handled with a mechanical device (e.g. tongs, forceps, plastic scoop), never handle broken glass directly with hands or absorbent towel.
  • Never cut, inject, or otherwise inoculate towards your body or hand.

Reusable Sharps Disinfection

  • Handle sharps with a mechanical device such as tongs.
  • Place sharps in a labeled, unbreakable, leak proof container filled with a facility approved disinfectant. Ensure appropriate contact time.
  • If possible, place instruments such that all of the sharps ends are facing in the same direction.
  • Use a brush to clean any visible blood or debris on the reusable sharp, place back in container to complete disinfection making note of contact time.
  • After disinfection place reusable sharps in a clean, labeled, unbreakable, leak proof container.
  • Never store unprotected sharps in a location where they could cause injury. Always store sharps in a protective container as outlined above.

Sharps Disposal

  • Promptly dispose of all sharps immediately after use in an appropriate sharps container.
  • Sharps must be disposed of in a puncture resistant, facility approved sharps container located in the immediate vicinity of the work being performed. Sharps containers may not be used for any other waste disposal and must be properly labeled.
  • Replace sharps containers before it reaches 3/4 full
  • Sharps containers that are set for disposal should have the lid securely closed by either tape or other mechanical means.
  • Contact UMBC ESH at 5-2918 or to schedule a pick up 3/4 full of partially full sharps containers. Never dispose of sharps or sharps containers in the regular trash!






Sharps Safety Resources