Ask the expert: Sharps container disposal height
Q: What is the OSHA regulation height for sharps disposal containers?
A: OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens standard section (d)(4)(iii)(A)(2)(i) does not specify height, only that sharps disposal containers must be “Easily accessible to personnel and located as close as is feasible to the immediate area where sharps are used or can be reasonably anticipated…”
Employers can determine accessibility by referring to the NIOSH document Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers.
Healthcare workers should be able to view the entire opening of the sharps disposal container while comfortably standing within arm’s reach.
NIOSH provides an ergonomically ideal formula by establishing the eye-level height, maximum thumb tip reach of the worker population, and including a drop angle drop 15 degrees (see illustration below).
All of which is a fancy way of saying that sharps disposal container height should be:
- Standing workstation: 52 to 56 inches above the standing surface of the user
- Seated workstation: 38 to 42 inches above the floor on which the chair rests
These height installation suggestions will “comfortably accommodate 95% of all adult female workers,” according to NIOSH.
Source: Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-111.