Sticking yourself with a needle is common injury on hog farms, but one that can be avoided. Just how common is it? More than 80 percent of U.S. farm workers in animal agriculture have accidentally stuck themselves with a needle while vaccinating animals (including pigs), according to the Upper Midwest Agricultural Safety and Health Center (UMASH).

Needle-stick injuries often occur when a pig that is being vaccinated, treated or processed suddenly jumps or moves, accidentally sticking the farm worker. To avoid needle-sticks on your farm, follow these safety guidelines from the Pork Checkoff:

  • Never straighten a bent needle.
  • Do not carry open needles in your pocket.
  • Use caution when climbing over a pen with a needle in your hand.
  • Never remove needle caps by using your mouth.
  • Do not recap needles after use.
  • Use the appropriate needle size.
  • Use proper animal restraints.
  • Dispose of used needles in a sharps container.
  • Do not rest used needles on shelves or counters where others may injure themselves.
  • Take extra care to avoid injury if you’re tired while processing pigs.

In Case an Injury Occurs…

Injuries and illnesses that can occur from needle-sticks may be very serious depending on the type of drug injected. Certain antibiotics and other medications designed for animals can result in severe medical reactions, or even death. Also, you could become ill with an infection if the needle is contaminated.

Remember to read package inserts, labels and safety data sheets for any medications administered to pigs. Use products only as directed on the package or as directed by your veterinarian.

In case of accidental injection, take these precautions to help keep you and your co-workers safe:

  • Immediately wash the area with soap and water and report the needle stick.
  • If you or a co-worker is accidentally injected with a medication and has a severe reaction, immediately call 9-1-1 for professional emergency medical services.