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  • Updates to Scalpel Blade Disposal Standards

Updates to Scalpel Blade Disposal Standards

In December 2020, Standards Australia published AS 3825:2020 Procedures and devices for the removal, containment and disposal of scalpel blades from scalpel handles to replace the 1998 version, AS/NZS 3825:1998.

Removing scalpel blades from handles using an unsafe method or unsafe device can lead to serious injury. For nurses and other healthcare workers, scalpel injuries also risk exposure to blood-borne infections such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, and HIV. The Australian Standard 3825 was updated reflect the latest published data on scalpel injury prevention and ensure optimal safety for all users of scalpel blades in clinical and non-clinical settings.

The revised 2020 Standard has expanded the recommendations for scalpel blade removal devices, to better address the range of devices now commercially available. Scalpel blade removal devices are considered Engineering Controls for sharps injury prevention.

The Standard covers both single-use and multiple-use scalpel blade removal devices, with specific requirements for single-use scalpel blade removal devices to be able to be used in the sterile field.
“Passive” scalpel blade removal devices are recommended over “active” scalpel blade removal devices. This aligns with studies showing that passive safety devices with an automatic safety mechanism provide better protection against sharps injuries than active safety devices, where the safety mechanism must be manually activated4,5. Scalpel blade removers must be able to be used with a single-handed action, and have an audible and/or visual cue that the scalpel blade has been safely removed. Recommendations have been added on how to dispose of scalpel blade removal devices. The 1998 Standard only referred to disposing the scalpel blade.

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