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Sharps Safety

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Sharps training is extremely important for anyone whose work activities mean there is the possibility of them coming into contact with sharp objects which may cause injury or illness.

Whilst the most obvious occupations are doctors and hospital workers, as well as those performing searches such as the police and customs officials, the reality is that anybody who has the possibility to come into contact with sharp objects would benefit from this particular health and safety training course. Example industries include construction, demolition, cleaning, grounds maintenance people and many others.

Please see below for the various sharps training course options, including the Sharps Awareness online course. To discuss your sharps safety training requirements in more detail with one of our knowledgeable health and safety training advisors, please call us on 0844 800 3295 or send us an online contact form by clicking on the 'Contact' button at the top of the page.

Sharps Training Options

Online sharps awareness training


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Classroom manual handling courses


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Bespoke sharps training


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Sharps Articles

Sharps Risks - Broken Skin

A grazed knee broken skin

Unbroken skin is an effective barrier against many forms of hazardous substances that are unable to penetrate through the various layers in order to reach the bloodstream. However, if the skin is broken, it is much easier for foreign chemicals or biological agents to enter the body and the bloodstream. Once there, they can multiply and/or destroy the body's existing cells and cause illness or in severe cases, death.

Sharp objects can penetrate and tear the skin to create an opening from which airborne agents can enter. Also, the sharp object itself may transfer a virus as it penetrates the skin. One example of this is a discarded needle which may introduce viruses such as hepatitis or HIV into the bloodstream.

Viruses and biological agents are not the only reasons for avoiding sharp objects. If the cut is severe, it can lead to excessive blood loss or permanent scarring, not to mention being extremely painful in the short term!

In order to avoid the ill-effects caused by sharp objects, it is vital that those workers who have the potential to encounter sharps risks which could pose a hazard to their health have suitable sharps training which gives them the knowledge of the risks, the correct use of personal protective equipment etc. Through a combination of common sense, protective equipment and the knowledge gained through relevant health and safety training will enable them to work more safely and help them avoid sharps injuries and the related consequences that come with an injury by a sharp object.

Sharps Health and Safety Risks on a Construction Site

One aspect of health and safety on a construction site which needs to be considered is that of sharp objects. A construction site can contain sharp items in a multitude of locations, and workers should receive suitable sharps training health and safety courses in order to become more aware of the dangers that sharp objects can present, and how to avoid injury from them.

As stated above, sharps risks can come from a variety of sources. One is the tools themselves, with machinery such as cutting tools needing a sharp blade in order to cut through hard material like bricks or metal, or hand-held implements like trimming knives. These items will easily cut through soft flesh, so care must be taken when using or moving around with these items. Cutting equipment should only be operated by a person who has received sufficient training in its correct operation, with appropriate health and safety measures put in place to avoid injury to others working nearby.

Site workers may also suffer cuts or lacerations from items such as protruding nails, staples in packaging material or from newly-cut material which has an edge awaiting grinding or sanding down. Workers need to be vigilant at all times against small sharp items which could be anywhere and will be difficult to spot before it is too late.

Those on site also need to consider the risk of discarded needles from trespassers who may either have been on site before building work commenced, or may have got into the site overnight. Just because the area was clear yesterday does not necessarily mean it will be today, so workers need to take care at all times.

When handling material which has the potential to contain something that can be sharp, issuing protective equipment such as gloves can help prevent injury. The circumstances will vary depending upon the situation, but it may be necessary to perform a sharps risk assessment before allowing a worker(s) to proceed with the task.

Related Training Courses:

Clinical Waste - Sharps and Other Health Risks

Clinical waste can pose a serious risk to the health and safety of both workers and members of the general public who may inadvertently come into contact with it if it is not disposed of in a correct and safe manner.

Numerous industries and professions create and handle clinical and biohazardous waste, and as such have a requirement to ensure its proper storage and disposal. These include medical facilities such as hospitals and doctors surgeries, dentists, veterinary surgeries and mobile blood donation facilities to name but a few.

The two main dangers and hazards associated with such facilities include sharps risks from syringes and other sharp implements such as scalpels, along with infection from contact with fluids on items like used bandages or organic tissue.

In fact, sharp objects can pose a danger not only from cuts and lacerations caused by the sharp item itself, but can also spread infection if blood or tissue is present on it. It is for this reason that sharps training is so important for any worker who has the possibility of coming into contact with, or who works with, sharp objects. This is not solely limited to those working in the medical profession, but also includes those in many other roles such as customs officials who have to search people and bags and may come into contact with a sharp object such as a syringe or knife (see below).

A third danger along with sharps and infection risks comes from discarded drugs and medicine. All medication has a use-by date on the packaging, after which it is highly inadvisable to take it, particularly as its effectiveness is likely to be severely reduced. Medical facilities will often keep stocks of drugs and medicine on the premises to dispense to patients. If any of this reaches its use-by date and is still on the shelf it will need to be disposed of properly; often destroyed so that it does not fall into the hands of others who may be tempted to take it as a recreational drug or try and sell it on to others for money, as this will put these people's health and possibly even their lives at risk.

Sharps Training for Customs Officials

For all the different occupations that require sharps training, perhaps the most obvious which springs to mind is customs officials at ports and airports who regularly search the bags of passengers. Each time a bag is checked or a person is searched, there is a risk of encountering a sharp object which could cause injury or illness. For this reason, a sharps training course is an essential component of that worker's health and safety training.

Sharps risks can come from normal everyday objects such as scissors, as well as knives and needles intended for illegal drug use. Sharp items which are prohibited or intended to be used for illegal purposes are likely to be concealed or not declared to the person doing the searching. This means the risk of injury is greater if the searcher has not had the appropriate sharps training and dives straight into the search without caution. The first thing they may know about the sharp object is when they are cut, which is precisely the outcome they need to avoid.

Not only is there a danger of cuts and lacerations from sharp objects, there is also the more serious risk of contracting illnesses which are acquired through infected blood. Whilst cuts will usually heal without any permanent damage, contracting an illness is much more serious with long-lasting effects, making sharps training a must for anyone who has the potential to come into contact with sharp implements in their work activities.

Related Courses

Please see below for some other courses which you may be interested in:

Accident Investigation Course

Our accident investigation course is aimed at those persons responsible for leading or participating in accident investigations, and aims to equip them with the broad base of skills needed to undertake the task along with how to reduce the risk of expensive litigation and criminal proceedings, and establish the importance of correct methods of accident investigation.

It will also help those who may be involved in the process such as supervisors, managers and directors.

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COSHH Awareness Course

The COSHH Awareness course is aimed at people who deal with hazardous substances on a day to day basis. Delegates will be briefed on the importance of procedures, safe handling and risk assessment of hazardous substances within their organisation.

At the conclusion of the course, delegates will have a sound understanding of their personal and legal responsibilities for the control of chemical and hazardous substances.

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Fire Safety Training Course

The Fire Safety course is aimed at all employees who need a basic awareness of fire safety issues. It is a health and safety training course which has been designed to give all personnel the necessary information, skills and training for them to be competent in basic fire safety.

Fires are a common potential danger in every single workplace and industry. Therefore, understanding the risks and having suitable prevention measures in place is vital.

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Permit to Work Training Course

A permit to work system ensures that formal validation and authority is given when hazardous work is to be undertaken. It ensures that all components of a safe system of work are established before high risk work commences, thereby controlling and reducing risk to individuals and the organisation. The permit to work is also a means of communication and control between site managers, supervisors, contractors and those carrying out the hazardous work.

This health and safety training course can be tailored to include details of your company-specific permit to work system.

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Risk Assessment Course

Our risk assessment course is aimed at anyone with specific responsibility for risk assessments, and will also be beneficial for anyone involved in the risk assessment or risk management process. Typical delegates include supervisors, managers, directors and safety representatives.

The course is designed to give those with risk assessment responsibility a sound footing in the process of risk assessment. We introduce delegates to the relevant legal framework and current HSE recommended best practice.

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