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Sharps Safety


"Sharps" include needles, as well as items such as scalpels, lancets, razor blade, scissors, metal wire, retractors, clamps, pins, staples, cutters, and broken glass items. Essentially, any object that is able to cut the skin can be considered a "sharp".

What are the hazards of sharps incidents?

Incidental punctures by contaminated needles can inject hazardous fluids into the body through the skin. There is potential for injection of hazardous drugs, but contact with infectious fluids, especially blood, is by far the greatest concern. Even small amounts of infectious fluid can spread certain diseases effectively.

Sharps can create a cut in the skin which allows contact between blood, or fluids.

The risk of infection after exposure to infected blood varies by bloodborne pathogen.

If you experience a cut or puncture incident, or experienced a near miss event:

  1. Complete a McMaster Injury/Incident Report


Sharps Disposal


Clean Glass

Glass that is uncontaminated and clean, whether broken or not, goes into a cardboard box, lined with a plastic bag, the bag is tied and the box is taped closed. The box is then labelled BROKEN GLASS (PI name and room) and taken to your regular waste closet. Check with your supervisor if there is a different process for your building. No box shall be heavier than 25lbs.

Contaminated Glass

Bio-contamination - contact

Rad-contamination - contact

Chem - contamination - contact (FHS)

Glass Slides and Coverslips

Whether used or unused, these all go into a SMALL yellow sharps container, which when 3/4 full, it gets closed and placed into a yellow bag / box or yellow bag / tote both of which are biohazard waste containers.

Blunt Needles

Housekeeping staff cannot determine whether or not these are sharps, therefore treat them as biohazardous sharps. Discard into biohazard sharps container.

Other Items?

For any other item that can be considered a sharp, or which may poke out of a garbage bag, please contact

Bloodborne Pathogens Training

BBP training is included in the following courses:

  • Biohazard Awareness
  • Laboratory Routine Practices
  • PHO Routine Practices

Infectious disease transmission is also a component of Biosafety Training.

Additional Pages

Scalpel Safety

Needle Safety

Updated 2022-05-27

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