Scalpel Injury Prevention Guidance
Recommended Practices for Cleaning and Care of Surgical Instruments and Powered
06 Nov 2011

As per AORN’s “Recommended Practices for Cleaning and Care of Surgical Instruments and Powered Equipment,” reusable metal scalpel handles should be considered sharp. Considering a reusable scalpel handle to be sharp minimizes the risk of injury, if a blade has been left on the handle. Visually check that the blade has not been left on the handle.

OSHA’s BBP standard requires that where engineering and work practice controls will reduce employee exposure either by removing, eliminating or isolating the hazard, they must be used. This would include the use of ultrasonic cleaners and washer-disinfector as a form of engineering control.

Work practice controls require reusable sharp to be segregated from other instruments and placed in a separate puncture proof container for transportation until properly reprocessed. AORN recommends establishing a separate area to place a reusable sharp for safe handling during the procedure. CDC and OSHA also recommend the use of long-handled brushes (to keep the hand as far away as possible from sharp instruments) for cleaning reusable sharps, to reduce the potential for employee exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials.

Employees should wear personal protective equipment according to regulations. Employees should not reach into trays, containers or sinks holding sharp instruments that cannot be seen.