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How to Dispose of Sharps

November 23, 2020

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How to Dispose of Sharps

Sharps are any item that can pierce or cut the skin that has been exposed to a potentially dangerous pathogen. Sharps can include but are not limited to: hypodermic needles, scalpels, knives, broken glass and plastic, lancets, auto injectors, infusion sets, and connection needle/sets.  Critical care must be given to safe handling, storage, and disposal of sharps to avoid injury.  

Sharps disposal guidelines are governed by local, state, and federal laws to avoid potential injury and ultimately transition them in a safe manner so that they are rendered harmless.  The processes involved in complying with all of the guidelines are critical and make use of a variety of requirements to ensure that none of the potentially dangerous diseases are transmitted. Our medical waste compliance training program helps identify the risk associated with sharps. See Why Proper Medical Waste Disposal Matters.

Sharps Classifications

There are a variety of types of sharps and each falls into the classifications of:

Handling, Storing and Disposing of Sharps

A great amount of information has been developed by local, state, and federal organizations on the safe handling, storage and disposal of sharps and medical waste disposal. The training guidelines for staff are a requirement for compliance by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) as measures to reduce the over 385,000 sharps injuries that occur each year. See, Avoiding Risk: Bloodborne Pathogens in the Healthcare Community and the risk of improperly disposing medical waste.

Storage of sharps involves specific guidelines so that they are placed in a puncture-proof “red bag” and then sealed prior to being placed in a sturdy and sealable medical waste container. The bags and container should never be more than ¾ full and each should have the proper universal biohazardous waste label on the exteriors. Containers should be in an area that has a constant safe temperature, is away from general public traffic, cannot be accessed by rodents or pests, and is only accessible by approved staff and medical waste management disposal company employees.

Sharps Container Disposal, disposing of sharps is critical to avoid injury or transmission of potentially dangerous diseases. Licensed, trained, and professional medical waste management staff will pick up the containers and directly transport them to a destruction facility.

How to Dispose of Sharps

  1. Place contaminated/used sharps in an approved container.

    All sharps disposal containers should be: made of a heavy-duty plastic; able to close with a tight-fitting, puncture-resistant lid, without sharps being able to come out; upright and stable during use; leak-resistant; and. properly labeled to warn of hazardous waste inside the container.

  2. When full replace with another approved sharps container.

    Sharps disposal containers are made from rigid plastic and come marked with a line that indicates when the container should be considered full, which means it’s time to dispose of the container.

  3. Place sealed sharps container in an approved biohazard waste container.

    Place the container in an area that is safe and only accessible by approved staff and a licensed and trained medical waste management company for pickup and disposal.

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