A four-year prospective study was undertaken at the University Hospital Birmingham National Health Service Foundation Trust to evaluate the effect of the introduction of a range of safety hypodermic needle devices on the number of reported needlestick injuries (NSIs). Data on the number of reported NSIs for four clinical areas began in 2001. Following an enhanced sharps awareness strategy in 2002, the number of NSIs reduced from 16.9/100,000 devices used in 2001 to 13.9/100,000 devices (P=0.813). In 2003, when only standard training was provided, the number of NSIs increased to 20/100,000 devices. However, the subsequent introduction of three safety needle devices with concomitant training resulted in a significant reduction in the number of reported NSIs to 6/100,000 devices in 2004 (P=0.045). User satisfaction and acceptance of the safety needles was also very favourable. These results suggest that when safety needle devices are introduced into the clinical setting and appropriate training is given, a significant reduction in the number of occupationally acquired NSIs may ensue.