Over 3 billion sharps are disposed every year in the United States and up to 16 billion needles and syringes are disposed around the world. Medical waste disposal technology has advanced dramatically in the developed countries but the undeveloped countries do not have the resources to protect their population from the harmful effects of contaminated needles.
OSHA Regulations Protect the Medical Worker
Syringes are defined as “sharps” which are hollow tubing devices used to inject medications under the skin, and to withdraw body fluids. These devices are covered under OSHA regulations for worker protection. If a worker should stick a used syringe into their body, they could be exposed to harmful infections such as Hepatitis B and C. Medical facilities are required to monitor exposure with a log describing action taken. In addition, the MSDS Manual should define the safety procedures, the location of used syringe disposal containers, and the types of sharps used by the facility.
Why the Concern?
Unfortunately, OSHA does not protect the home user of sharps. People use sharps at home, at work, and when traveling. Sharps are not only hazardous to people and animals, but they can be reused by people seeking to use illegal drugs to satisfy their addiction. Sharps disposal is a serious problem and a grave threat to public health. Used syringes disposed in the trash or flushing down the toilet will expose housekeepers and sanitary workers to infection. Sharps can easily be stolen from the trash and resold on the black market.
Solution for Used Syringe Disposal for Home Use
Hospitals, medical clinics and pharmacies must educate the public on the safe use of sharps and how to safely dispose them. People need to understand why disposing used syringes into open trash bins could “stick” the housekeeper removing the trash. The only reasonable solution to this public health issue is to encourage the use of sharps containers for used syringe disposal. The full container can be returned to the place where the syringe was dispensed or mail the container to a collection point using a prepaid, preaddressed mailer. This method is convenient for the user to dispose the sharps.
Sharps Disposal: Protecting the Public’s Health
Proper disposal of used syringes and needles is crucial to contain the dangers to public health. We can all improve our environment by utilizing a proper medical hazardous waste disposal system for home use. Visit Sharps Assure for more information.
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