Improperly disposed sharps pose a serious threat not only to healthcare professionals and their patients, but also to medical waste specialists and members of the community. To help you eliminate this threat and ensure the safety of your staff and others, here are 10 Dos and Don’t’s of proper sharps disposal.
- DO: Immediately place used needles and other sharps in their proper disposal container. This will reduce the risk of needle sticks, punctures and cuts from loose sharps.
- DON’T: Throw any loose needles, uncapped syringes or other sharps into the regular trash.
- DO: Use an FDA-cleared sharps disposal container, if possible. Your medical waste management team will be able to provide you with these. If you’re not currently using professional waste management professionals and don’t have access to these FDA-regulated containers, it is recommended you use a heavy-duty plastic household container as an alternative, such as a liquid laundry detergent bottle, labeled clearly.
- DO: Be sure to follow not only OSHA regulations but also the guidelines set forth by your state and local agencies.
- DON’T: Flush needles or other sharps down the toilet.
- DO: Be sure to always seal sharps in their proper disposal containers when disposing of them, label them properly, and check local guidelines on how to properly dispose of them.
- DON’T: Place your needs or other sharps in your recycling bin. They are not recyclable and could accidentally cut or prick someone.
- DO: If you use sharps at home (for example to administer insulin and other medications) contact your local public health department and local trash collectors to find out about sharps disposal programs in your area. You may also want to ask your healthcare provider or local hospital where and how you can get an FDA-approved disposal container. They may also be able to dispose of your needles and other sharps for you.
- DON’T: Attempt to bend, break, remove, or recap needles used by another person. This can lead to needle sticks, which in turn may causes serious infections. Also, don’t attempt to remove a needle without a proper needle clipper because the needle could wind up falling off, getting lost and injuring someone.
- DO: Keep all sharps and sharps disposal containers out of the reach of children and pets, and report any problems associated with sharps or their containers.
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