Safe Collection and Disposal of Sharps Training rolled out across Western and Far Western NSW

Lynda Lewis, a trainer for OCTEC, was funded by the Community Sharps Management Program to deliver workshops on Safe Sharps Management to 285 participants from 15 councils at towns across Western and Far Western NSW. This is one component of a coordinated regional response to community sharps management that is being rolled out over the next 12 months.

We asked Lynda why there is such an interest in the workshop

There are a number of reasons. Some people use the course as a refresher, while others have never received training. Staff turnover and changes in roles and responsibilities mean that training needs to be offered at least every couple of years.

For example, this was the first time staff at Central Darling Shire Council received this kind of training, and they are about to launch a new community sharps management plan with a community education strategy. So the training was very timely.

Tell us about the workshop

Well, I work for OCTEC, which provides accredited and non-accredited Waste Management training throughout NSW. And I ran two workshops.  One is a 2 hour workshop for Operational Staff – Safe Collection and Disposal of Sharps. The other is a 4 hour workshop for supervisors and managers – Community Sharps Management and Disposal. Participants receive a Statement of Attainment. Western and Far Western Local Health Districts have worked closely with OCTEC and the councils in support of this training and other strategies to address sharps management.

Were there any common themes or questions?

Participants thought they were the only council where sharps management was an issue. I reassured them that while it may be more visible in some places that have yet to implement an effective management strategy, the issue exists everywhere.

At every session, questions were asked about why councils had to manage needles and syringes that had been provided by health services? There were questions about roles and responsibilities, and I was able to discuss the importance of building partnerships across health, councils, community and other stakeholders. The Community Sharps Management Program, that funded the workshops, also assists councils and local health services to work together to develop a strategic response to sharps.

Some council staff talked about their fear of contracting HIV or hepatitis through a needle stick injury, and how this affected their response to handling discarded sharps. The course is perfect to lessen people’s fears about this, as it’s about minimising the risk of this situation, and we also have lots of hands on practice sessions.

Lynda, what were the highlights for you? 

It was a fantastic chance for me to go to some quite remote places and to meet people who don’t often get the opportunity to attend training. It’s difficult for operational staff in particular to attend training, and they were really interested, open and friendly.

And I hope those councils who attended the workshops will now feel confident to respond safely to the collection and disposal of sharps, and to working with their local health services and others to develop a coordinated response to community sharps management.

Participant feedback 

It was very valuable information. The workshop was very good and widened my education and knowledge on sharps and what to do. Thank you Lynda - Warren

This course has been excellent and has made me aware of the proper procedures for sharps  -Gilgandra

The ability to get some samples to use as a demonstration board for the various Council departments was a great benefit. The depth of knowledge by the presenter was a great advantage as all areas of our council were able to be covered Mid-Western Regional Council

For information about the Community Sharps Management Program:
For information on OCTEC:



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