Biosafety Stewardship Month: Focus on Sharps Safety

Oct. 7, 2016

Biosafety stewardship month is an opportunity to call attention to biosafety policies, practices and procedures in the laboratory.

Here at Princeton, we’re shining a light on sharps safety. Proper use and disposal of sharps—whether needles, scalpels, blades or glass equipment—is one of the most important ways to prevent injury and transmission of infectious agents. 

The Princeton Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) website contains a wealth of information on safe practices, including guidelines for using sharps safely in the lab, reducing sharp use when possible, and safe disposal procedures. 

Be Biosafe and Win Stuff!

During Biosafety Stewardship Month in October, tell EHS how you are biosafe and win exciting prizes! On Twitter or Facebook, use the hashtag #BiosafePrinceton or our handle @PrincetonEHS. Or email your examples to — and include a picture if possible. 

Open to students, faculty and staff of Princeton University only. 

Sharps Exposure: Limit the Risk

One of the best ways to avoid biohazard contamination from sharps is to avoid their use altogether. Carefully consider the need to use sharp devices, such as needles and glass pipettes, and whenever possible, eliminate the use of devices that can puncture the skin. 

Examples of ways to limit sharps exposure are to replace Pasteur pipettes with plastic aspirating pipettes, and replace sharp-tipped needles with blunt cannulas for some procedures. 

If you must use sharps, be sure to dispose of sharps immediately after use in an approved container. 

Remember: NEVER attempt to recap needles.  

Exposure Response

If you are exposed to an infectious agent, either through 1) contact with skin, eyes, nose mouth or other membranes, or 2) due to injury from a contaminated sharp, remember these three steps: Clean It, Treat It, Report It.   

Clean It: For skin exposure, immediately remove contaminated clothing and wash area with soap and water for 15 minutes. For eye exposure, flush the eye with water for 15 minutes at an eyewash station or sink.

Treat It: During business hours (Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) go to University Health Services. During evenings and weekends, if exposed to BSL-2 materials, contact Public Safety for transport to the Emergency Room at University Medical Center Princeton Plainsboro. For BSL-1 materials, seek treatment at UHS on next business day. 
Report It: Report all exposures to your immediate supervisor and Principal Investigator. Principal Investigators are responsible for reporting exposure incidents to EHS Biosafety.

Downloadable Materials

For more information on sharps safety and exposure to infectious agents, download the following graphics. Display this information in the lab, post online or hand out as a reminder of safe practices. 

Sharps Safety Poster »

Infections Materials Exposure Response Poster »