Millions of Americans use needles, lancets or other sharps every year. These items are obviously incredibly useful, but at the same time they can be very dangerous to people who come in contact with them directly or indirectly.
In order to combat these avoidable injuries that could possibly transmit infectious disease, follow our easy step-by-step guide to sharps disposal and stop worrying today!
The very first and most important step, the one you must do before you even start using sharps, is to get a sharps disposal container. Be it a wall hanging one, a small personal 1.2 gallon one, a gigantic 18-gallon container, or my favorite, the 3 gallon sharps disposal jug.
You can get any of these sizes from our online store for our sharps mailback program.
Step two is to simply use your sharps. Once you are finished, carefully place the used needle/lancet/syringe in the sharps container and make sure you DO NOT re-cap the needle. It is unnecessary and can only lead to more injuries.
If you are using an auto-injecting needle that automatically retracts when it is finished, remember that it still must go into the sharps container.
If you are a healthcare worker, the Center for Disease Control has a handy guide available you can follow to reduce needle related injuries in the workplace. In this guide they state the most common reasons for sharps injuries are:
- Passing or transferring equipment
- Recapping contaminated needles
- Colliding with coworkers
- Decontaminating/processing used equipment
- Injuries occur from sharps left in unusual places:
- Tables, trays, or other surfaces
Needless to say you should always be supremely careful when handling used or unused sharps around other people, and NEVER pass an open needle to a coworker.
Interestingly enough, you are not ever supposed to fill up a sharps container all the way. You fill it to about 3/4ths of the way there and then dispose of it.
One of the more common reasons for injury that wasn’t mentioned above is actually from sharps containers that have been filled to the brim. If a sharps container is too full and you place a needle in there, it is possible to get poked from inside the sharps container! Because of this, hospitals around the world have the same rule in place – never over fill your sharps container.
Once you notice your container is about 75% full, stop using it, cap it up, and if you are using our convenient and low cost mailback service, place it in the shipping box and ship it back to us!
Once the container reaches its destination, the contents are then sterilized using an autoclave or incineration, and then placed into a sanitary landfill or recycled.