What precautions are needed when removing needles from a construction site?

Where there is a chance that needles might be present, such as during demolition of derelict buildings or in areas where recreational drug use has been identified, a risk assessment should be carried out. This should include an assessment of the need for vaccination against hepatitis B for staff involved in removing the needles. You should consult an occupational health provider when doing this assessment.

Workers removing sharps, such as needles, from a contaminated area should be trained in how to carry out the work safely. A ‘needle picker’ should be used to remove them, rather than hands. Needles should be disposed of into a sharps box and the box should not be over-filled. Training should include the hazards associated with needlestick injuries, including the risk of infection with blood borne viruses, such as Hepatitis B & C and HIV, and the procedures to be followed during the work.

In the event of a needlestick injury, after appropriate first aid, the member of staff should consult their occupational health provider or the nearest A and E department, as soon as possible, to be assessed for PEP (post exposure prophylaxis) for HIV and post exposure immunisation for Hepatitis B, if not already vaccinated.