Exposure to used sharps in the dental practice can often be prevented by having, and following, policies and procedures that address sharps safety. All dental care personnel should be aware of the risk of injury, including exposure to serious infectious diseases, any time sharps are exposed. Regularly remind members of the team to take their time and to follow all of the standard precautions any time they’re using sharps, including during cleanup and disposal.
Engineering and work-practice controls are the primary and most effective methods to reduce staff exposure to blood and other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) from sharp instruments and needles. And of course, manufacturers’ directions and instructions should always be followed when preparing, using or disposing of any instrument or equipment.
Engineering controls are designed to remove or isolate potential hazards in the workplace and should be the primary method of protecting workers from exposures to bloodborne pathogens. They are frequently technology-based and, in dentistry, can include self-sheathing anesthetic needles, safety scalpels, and needleless IV ports.
Work practice controls are practices that eliminate or reduce the need to use needles and include other practices like using safety devices when handling sharps. Another example of a work practice control is following safe practices to minimize the risk of needlestick injuries.
Refer to the resource on ADA Do’s and Don’ts for the Safe Handling of Instruments for more information and helpful tips.
- ADA Do’s and Don’ts for the Safe Handling of Instruments and Sharps [PDF]
- CDC Device Screening and Evaluation Forms
- CDC Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings—2003
- CDC Infection Prevention & Control Guidelines & Recommendations
- CDC Summary of Infection Prevention Practices in Dental Settings: Basic Expectations for Safe Care [PDF]