4 minutes reading time (800 words)

Needlestick safety and regulations for all dental teams

By Rebecca Allen of Initial Medical


As part of the dental team, needlestick safety is something you should be acutely aware of in your day-to-day role. A survey conducted in association with the British Association of Dental Nurses* in 2014, found that 51.2% of respondents had received a needlestick injury at some point throughout their career, with 60% of those saying they’d received more than one. When you then consider the risk of infection following a needlestick injury is estimated to be 1 in 3 for HBV, 1 in 30 for HCV and 1 in 300 for HIV**, it is vital that safety procedures are put in place in all dental surgeries.


Following the introduction of The Health & Safety (Sharps Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013, all healthcare facilities must ensure that:

(a) The use of medical sharps at work is avoided so far as is reasonably practicable;

(b) When medical sharps are used at work, safer sharps are used so far as is reasonably practicable;

(c) Needles that are medical sharps are not capped after use at work unless— (i) that act is required to control a risk identified by an assessment undertaken pursuant to regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (a); and (ii) the risk of injury to employees is effectively controlled by the use of a suitable appliance, tool or other equipment;

(d) In relation to the safe disposal of medical sharps that are not designed for re-use— (i) written instructions for employees, and (ii) clearly marked and secure containers, are located close to areas where medical sharps are used at work.


Health and safety law has always placed general responsibilities on the employer to provide their staff with a healthy working environment. However, this legislation now puts further emphasis on prevention. In reality it would be difficult, if not impossible to remove all sharps from a dental practice, so the next best thing is to assess the risk correctly, use devices which limit the risk of injury and dispose of all sharps in a safe manner.


Key tips that all dental clinical staff should follow to help reduce needlestick injuries are:

·         Cease recapping of needles

·         Ensure the correct type and size of sharps disposal unit is in place

·         Make sure your sharps disposal units are assembled and closed correctly

·         Place all sharps disposal units in a safe, secure location

·         Dispose of your sharps at point of use

·         Report all sharps injuries immediately

·         In the case of a needlestick injury follow your health and safety protocol immediately


It’s important to remember that when it comes to hazardous and infectious waste, such as syringes and other sharps at a dental practice, the cradle-to-grave rule applies. The producer of waste will always be held responsible for the safe and legal disposal of it, even after it has been passed onto the waste carrier collecting it. This is why it’s important to work with comprehensively trained sharps waste disposal experts who will safely and securely dispose of it and advise on the correct products that comply with both the UK and EU legislation.  Health and safety law is criminal law and healthcare organisations can be subject to enforcement action if they fail to comply with the legal requirements. There is also always a threat of civil law action if an employee is injured due to insufficient practices and technologies being in place.  


Everyone has a role to play in the prevention of sharps injuries, from trainee staff who are learning the ropes, to practice owners who will hold legal overall responsibility for the wellbeing of their staff.


*For healthcare workers worldwide

**1216 British Association of Dental Nurses responded to the survey in August 2014, from across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.  99% of respondents were from the UK and 1% from the Republic of Ireland.


About Initial Medical Waste Experts

Initial Medical is an expert in healthcare waste management, providing a complete collection, disposal and recycling service for hazardous and non-hazardous waste, such as offensive waste produced by businesses and organisations within the UK. The safe management of healthcare waste is vital to ensure your activities are not a risk to human health.  Initial Medical’s healthcare waste services ensure that all of your waste is stringently handled in compliance with legislation and in accordance with Safe Management of Healthcare Waste best practice guidelines, providing you with the peace of mind that you are adhering to current legislation.

For further information please visit www.initialmedical.co.uk or Tel 0800 731 0802.


Rebecca Allen, Category Manager, Initial Medical

Rebecca has worked in the Healthcare sector for the past 13 years and was a Research Chemist with Bayer Cropscience prior to joining Rentokil Initial in 2003.  She keeps up to date on all developments within the clinical waste management industry and is an active member of the CIWM, SMDSA and BDIA.  

The dental profession raise concerns over the bala...
Patients embrace online booking services

Related Posts



Already Registered? Login Here
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.gdpuk.com/

Please do not re-register if you have forgotten your details,
follow the links above to recover your password &/or username.
If you cannot access your email account, please contact us.

Mastodon Mastodon