Location, location, location: The keys for sharps disposal containers safety
Disposal is one of the prime times for needlesticks to occur, according to the CDC’s Workbook for Designing, Implementing, and Evaluating a Sharps Injury Prevention Program.
Failing to engage the device’s safety feature, putting down the device and then picking it up, walking out of the exam room with a sharp, or difficulty in reaching the container or seeing the opening, are just some of the safety missteps that can occur when disposing of contaminated sharps.
Wall-mounted sharps containers should be installed 52–56 inches above the floor to accommodate 95% of the adult population, according to NIOSH’s Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers.
Installing at the proper height alone won’t remove all sharps disposal container location hazards. Distance to containers, obstacles in the path, concealed placement for security or aesthetic reasons, and even poor lighting conditions contribute to sharps injuries during disposal.
The NIOSH list of inappropriate sharps container locations includes in the corners of
rooms, on the backs of doors, under cabinets, on inside cabinet doors, under sinks, in areas where people might sit or lie beneath the container, near light switches or room environmental controls, or where the container is subject to impact from pedestrian traffic or moving equipment.
OSHA bloodborne pathogens standard 1910.1030(d)(4)(iii)(A)(2)(i) requires sharps disposal containers to be “easily accessible to personnel and located as close as is feasible to the immediate area where sharps are used.” Recent initial fines for this type of violation in healthcare facilities averaged $829.
The “Needlestick Prevention Training Video” clip on the Video Library page can to help educate you and your staff members on hazards during sharps disposal.
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