Sharps are any devices capable of cutting and piercing skin due to their corners, edges, and projections, making them dangerous to dispose of using regular waste bags. There are various types of sharps such as hypodermic needles, syringes, blades, lab glassware, glass tubes and microscope slides that each require specific disposal methods so as to protect waste handlers from contamination and physical injury while working. Below are a few tips on how to properly dispose of sharps.
Before handling and disposing of sharp devices, it is recommended that you get proper training on their use as improper use and technique can lead to a risk of sharps exposure and physical injury.
Learn how to store sharps by securing sharps with a magnet when applicable, putting used needles into a cork and storing needles in a petri dish. Get a sharps waste container if necessary.
Sharp disposal depends on a number of factors, such as whether they are contaminated with hazardous material and the type of contamination that may be present in them. This separation and categorization is required by law. There are four main types of sharps that have to be categorized and disposed of together.
- Chemically contaminated
For these types of sharps, use a container with the biohazard symbol on it and ensure that it is leak-proof and puncture resistant. You can get them at your local store. When disposing them, do not place any liquids in the containers with the sharps or fill up the container past the marked line. Put the full containers in designated bio-hazardous waste collection areas to have them destroyed, deactivated or autoclaved. If you are not near a collection area, call a professional waste disposal agency to take care of it.
These sharps contain chemical contamination only and thus should be deactivated/disinfected before disposing them. Make sure you use the right kind of disinfectants when doing this. With these types of sharps, you are required to request a collection from the environment, health and safety body in your local area due to the hazardous nature of the waste.
Sharps contaminated with radioactive materials must be stored in containers that have listed the isotope used, any chemical hazards and methods of disinfection used before disposing them. You can either place them in a designated radioactive waste storage area or request a collection from the environmental, health and safety officials.
These sharps are considered non-contaminated due to their lack of bio-hazard, radioactive and chemical contamination. They should be contained in a rigid, leak-proof containers that have no labels or bio-hazard symbols on it. Place the containers near where the sharps are being used and ensure that they have no free liquids inside when disposing them. After a container is filled up, seal it using tape and place the container in regular waste bags or trash compartments.
For more information or advice, contact a sharps collection service.