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What is the EU ‘Sharps’ Directive?

Sharps are defined by the EU as “objects or instruments necessary for the exercise of specific healthcare activities, which are able to cut, prick, cause injury and/or infection.” 1

This Directive was adopted on 10th May 2010 to prevent sharps related injuries for all healthcare workers within the EU Member States with a requirement to implement the legislation by 11th May 2013.

Why was it introduced?

More than one million sharps injuries occur in the EU every year placing healthcare workers at everyday risk to Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV.2 Each injury carries significant worries in addition to cost implications through employee absence, blood tests and associated treatments.

What are the key points of the Directive?

Exposure of healthcare workers to sharps injuries, and associated risks, should be eliminated through:

  • The effective use of disposal procedures and containers;
  • Provision of medical devices incorporating safety protection mechanisms;
  • An immediate and effective ban on the practice of recapping;
  • Highlighting the risks of sharps injuries through support programmes, promotion of good work practices and raising staff awareness;
  • Creation of an immediate injury reporting system.

Implementation of this legislation is mandatory
It is the responsibility of the employer to implement the Directive.
This can be done through risk assessment, selection of appropriate controls
and products, information and training around safe working procedures
and a blame-free accident reporting structure.

How can ArcSafe help?

  • Staff Awareness
    ArcSafe can help you and your staff become aware of what you need to know, and what you need to do, to comply with this Directive.

  • Training
    ArcSafe’s comprehensive training includes:
    – An EORNA Ace-accredited study module, worth 1.12 credits, with a test at the end. Will you be ArcSafe compliant?
    – Product training videos on all of the products in the ArcSafe range, with detail on how these products offer you compliance with the Directive.

  • Sharp Safety Product Offering
    ArcSafe’s product bundle offers you a safety solution with each and every product.

  • Correct Safe Sharps Disposal
    In line with Directive criteria that disposal containers must be easy to use and in close proximity to the operating site, our ArcSafe disposal container provides a safe and sturdy unit for containment of contaminated sharps.


  1. Official Journal of the European Union L/134/66 (2010) Council Directive 2010/32/EU – implementing the Framework Agreement on prevention of sharp injuries in the hospital and healthcare sector concluded by HOSPEEM and EPSU.
  2. HSA: Guide to the proposed Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (Prevention of Sharps Injuries in the Healthcare Sector) Regulations 2013.