Back to University – Sharps Safety!


A lot of us started back at university this week, and unfortunately we always get an increase in sharps injuries at the beginning of term.

The Risk Assessment Tool for Sharps (RATS) is a good way for dental students and clinicians to assess a clinical area for risks associated with sharps injuries, prior to commencing treatment. Things like open bur packs, unsheathed needles and untidy clinical areas are all hazards to be noted.

Since the commencement of the RATS education programme in 2011/12, an audit showed that reported sharps injuries have reduced significantly from 38, to 16 in 2012-13, and down to 11 in 2013-14.

So when you go onto clinic over the next few weeks, remember to:

  • take time to assess you work area before you start
  • keep your clinical bay clean and tidy
  • dispose of sharps in the correct manner in the sharps safety bins
  • Remove drills and ultrasonic burs from the units when they’re not being used
  • keep bur packs closed
  • keep needles sheathed
  • the clinician is responsible for managing their sharps but the whole team should play a role in keeping safe

Keeping your work area clean and tidy will make working safer for both you, and others around you. Organising your equipment and instruments is a good habit to get into, and will hopefully help to reduce overall sharps injuries, as well as allowing you to use your clinical time more efficiently.

NHS Clinical Guidelines: Sharps Injury and Body Fluid Exposure Procedure Policy (April 2007) states the following as the correct procedure to follow when getting a needlestick sharps injury:

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