Fact Sheet

Needlesticks and Sharps Injuries

As defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA): Bloodborne pathogens are pathogenic microorganisms that are present in human blood and can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

OSHA reports that HCV infection is the most common chronic bloodborne infection in the United States, affecting approximately 4 million people. Hepatitis C infection is caused most commonly by needlestick injuries. HCV infection often occurs with no symptoms, but chronic infection develops in 75 percent to 85 percent of patients, with 70 percent developing active liver disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control in 1998.
Although few cases of AIDS have been documented from occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, approximately 8,700 health care workers each year contract HVB; about 200 will die as a result, states OSHA. The standards covering bloodborne pathogens specify measures to reduce infection from handling “sharps.”


Identify all employees whose job exposes them to blood

Write an exposure plan

Provide training to all employees and volunteers whose job responsibilities expose them to blood at no cost to them and during their normal working hours.

Prevent exposure


Bloodborne Pathogens Disposal Container Checklist

Bloodborne Pathogens Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidelines Checklist

Characteristics of Needle Device Safety Features Checklist

Occupational Safety & Health Administration homepage

OSHA Bloodborne Fact Sheet: Protecting Yourself When Handling Sharps

OSHA Hospital eTool-Healthcare Wide Hazards Module: (Lack of) Universal Precautions

OSHA Safety and Health Topics: Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention

Protect Staff From Bloodborne Pathogen Contamination Fact Sheet

Sciandra, Russell J., “To the Point: Needle-stick Prevention,” Public Risk, September 1997, Public Risk Management Association