Ask the expert: Safety devices and non-contaminated needles

By: August 25th, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: When drawing up medication, must we use a safety needle if it is not to be used to administer to the patient?

A: Non-contaminated needles are not subject to the bloodborne pathogens standard, according to Enforcement Procedures for the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens:

“Needles that will not become contaminated by blood during use (such as those used only to draw medication from vials) are not required to have engineering controls under this standard. The needle used for the actual injection, however, must incorporate engineering controls.”

Make a notation of this work practice in the exposure control plan, along with a reference to the enforcement document.


Does no-contaminated laundry be treated as a potential bio-hazard? Does it need to be placed in a special container?

By David LaHoda on September 9th, 2009 at 12:45 pm

If you are strictly following the OSHA bloodborne pathogen standard, contaminated laundry is defined as:

“Laundry which has been soiled with blood or other potentially infectious materials or may contain sharps.”

Facilities may have stricter precautions and define all used linen as potentially contaminated, in which case special handling and containerization would be needed.

By Carol Hutchinson on October 3rd, 2011 at 10:52 am

If a needle used for drawing up medication is removed and another needle used for injection, does the first needle have to have a safety device? If not, how should they be disposed of since there should not be recapped needles or needles without an engaged safety device in a sharps container?

By David LaHoda on October 3rd, 2011 at 11:26 am

The Bloodborne Pathogens Standard regulations on safety devices and not-recapping needles applies only to contaminated needles. It is true that improperly disposed non-contaminated needles pose hazards, but there is no OSHA regulation covering this situation. State laws, however, do require the disposal of needles used in healthcare facilities in sharps disposal containers. And more states are enacting laws requiring rigid containers for the disposal of sharps used in the home.

Whether your non-contaminated needle has a safety device or not, dispose in a sharps disposal container. Also, make a note in you exposure control plan that non-safety, non-contaminated needles are used to draw up medicine and disposed in sharps containers in your facility as a reference in case an OSHA inspector inquires.

By Carol Hutchinson on October 3rd, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Regarding previous post concerning disposal of non-contaminated needles……Should the non-contaminated needles be placed in a separate sharps container and labeled as non-contaminated? If OSHA inspector sees recapped or unprotected needles in a sharps with other contaminated sharps,how would they know they were non-contaminated?

By David LaHoda on October 3rd, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Segregating non-contaminated needles in a separate sharps disposal container couldn’t hurt. A reference in the exposure control plan should work, but a separate container is a more fool-proof approach.

Good suggestion if you can implement it.

By michael schaffer on May 6th, 2012 at 10:56 am

sirs-why would a hcw not be concernrd with getting stuck with a needle just dipped into a potent drug. no studies have ever been made about possible negative results from any needlestick.what if the now stuck contaminated needle hcw administer has one or more of those deadly dangerous contagious that not another contaminated sharp looking for a victim. what about the famous and noted “universal precautions”. another glitch from an a federal organization i fear may be more political than pallitive

By Wanda Dailey LPN on February 18th, 2015 at 11:41 am

I have a Dr. in an outpatient setting who wants the staff to hold the medication vial in the air while he sticks the needle in. This is not very stable and seems it would be against a safety regulation. Is there a regulation regarding this type of practice? Shouldn’t it just be one person drawing the medication out of a vial?



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