Risk Factors of Biological Agents and Unsafe Practices That Can Result in Worker Injury or Illness

Sharps Management (Needles, blades, scalpels, wires, lancets)

  • Sharps container-placement and use
    • Poor and inaccessible location: on the floor, in a cabinet, under sink, obstructed, too high
    • Fill contents/size: greater than 3/4 filled (unacceptable); must be large enough for the device being disposed
    • Poor lid design: contents spill
    • Visibility: container is opaque or does not allow fill level to be seen
    • Improper container disposal: not placed in biowaste container

Equipment and Supplies

  • Improper disinfection of equipment and surfaces
    • Dentistry, medical: endoscope
    • Reuse of single use items or disposables: plastic impression trays, saliva ejectors, bone graft material, single dose vials
    • Uncleaned surfaces
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • Improper sequence for donning and doffing, and improper disposal of PPE
    • Improper use and selection of PPE
    • Not wearing PPE correctly; prescription glasses worn instead of safety glasses; improper mask or respirator and respirator replacement; not using fluid resistant gowns for the anticipated fluid exposure

Unsafe Work Practices

  • Recapping of syringes (without mechanical device/one-handed)
  • Reuse of syringes
  • Lack of proper hand hygiene practice
  • Cell phone usage in restricted (clinical) areas creating opportunity for potential injury to healthcare worker due to clinician distraction and device contamination
  • Food, drink, and application of cosmetics in clinical areas
  • Improper instrument or specimen transport (sharps, blood/body fluids)
  • Lack of biohazard labeling
Page last reviewed: April 28, 2022