Safe Disposal of Sharps. Accidents involving sharps can cause the transmission of bloodborne pathogens that can be devastating. Safe handling and disposal of sharps is critical to ensure the protection of people and the environment.
Initial Best Practices
Make use of FDA-cleared containers for disposing of sharps. The container should be sturdy, puncture-proof, leak-proof, and be able to be completely sealed. The top section should be narrowed so that the sharps can be dropped into the container without the ability to allow an individual to put their hands in it and risk a needlestick.
Healthcare organizations typically make use of sharps containers that are supplied by professional waste disposal companies such as Healthcare Waste Management. Sharps containers used in the home can be sturdy laundry soap containers.
Sharp containers should close to the proximity of use so that the sharps can be placed into the container as soon as use is complete.
A sharps container should never be filled over the 3/4 mark. Once it has reached that maximum point the container should be sealed.
Never reuse a sharps container.
When traveling, always take a travel-size container for sharps disposal. Check with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) for their rules on traveling by plane and bringing a sharps container. Always have a letter from your physician and make sure all medicines include the proper label that has pharmacy, type of medicine, and the name of the manufacturer.
Disposal Best Practices
Proper sharps disposal is based on the local and state guidelines. Healthcare facilities make use of a licensed and certified waste management disposal company such as Healthcare Waste Management to ensure careful pickup and compliance with the laws to ensure that the sharps are no longer infectious and dangerous. Residential or home sharps containers can be disposed of using a few options and these are also dependent upon the local and state laws:
Hazardous Waste Sites for Households: These are typically operated by county or state organizations and are used by the general public to drop off materials deemed hazardous such as oil, paint, and cleaners.
Managed Collection Sites and/or Drop Boxes: Specifically designated collection sites can be available to drop off the sharps containers and can include pharmacies, hospitals, health departments, fire, or police stations, and/or physician offices. The service can be free or have a fee.
Mail-Back: Only certain FDA-cleared containers for sharps may be used in a mail-back program. The containers are mailed to a collection site where they are picked up for proper disposal. These programs typically have a fee based on container size. There are also manufacturer labeling rules that must be followed to comply with the program.
Waste Pick up Services for Residential: Some communities offer waste pick up services that involve trained and certified waste handlers that will arrive at a residence to pick up sharps containers. There is usually a fee involved in these services and they have specific guidelines for container acceptance.
Any business that generates sharps should always use the professional services of a professional waste disposal service such as Healthcare Waste Management. HWM is knowledgeable of all state and federal laws and guidelines that govern compliance, can coordinate a convenient pick-up schedule, and supplies a certificate of destruction to customers.
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