Compliance with nonrecapping needle policies is poor. Accidental needlestick injuries account for up to 80% of reported occupational needle exposures, and 45% of needlestick injuries occur at recapping. To determine the degree of compliance with in-house nonrecapping and needle disposal policies, the authors undertook an unannounced survey of needles disposed in designated sharps disposal containers and, via a questionnaire, surveyed attitudes to policies. The results show between 46 and 77% of needles were being recapped with 9 to 20% of bloodstained needles recapped before disposal. Recapping devices were rarely used and two-handed recapping techniques predominated. Highest rates of recapping were seen in intensive care, intermediate care and medical care units. Common reasons for recapping include inability to dispose immediately of needles properly, and sharps containers being too far away. Awareness of the risks of recapping was widespread with over 90% of respondents having been instructed in proper needle disposal techniques. While few health care professionals disagreed with non-recapping and needle disposal policies, many--for various reasons--persist in hazardous needle disposal practices.