The Importance of Safe Sharps Disposal
A strong sharps disposal program is an important element to maintaining a safe work environment. Properly managing sharps and needle disposal not only mitigates the risk of inadvertent sharps injuries, but also facilitates proper disposal and helps preserve the environment. Without a smoothly functioning sharps and syringe disposal program in place, health care organizations may unintentionally put patients, staff, and the surrounding community at risk—and fall short of industry compliance standards.
Before determining how to strengthen the sharps disposal program at your organization, it’s important to first understand your organization’s unique goals and evaluate the existing waste management processes in place. The following are four questions to ask yourself when considering your current sharps waste management programs and goals.
How Does Your Organization Currently Dispose of Sharps?
By closely examining how staff throws away sharps, organizations can determine what kind of disposal program best suits their needs. This may involve asking further questions like:
- What types of sharps are staff throwing away?
- How many sharps disposal areas are needed?
- How quickly does sharps waste accumulate?
- What regulations apply to the facility?
Are Reusable Sharps Containers Right for Your Organization?
Reusable sharps containers can significantly reduce the environmental impact of sharps waste. This option eliminates the need to manufacture new sharps containers and helps to conserve natural resources. For example, at Stericycle, in 2021 we diverted 104 million pounds of plastics from landfills with reusable sharps and pharmaceutical containers.
Every reusable container from Stericycle, replaces the use of up to 600 single-use containers. This significantly reduces plastic and cardboard going to landfills and your organization’s carbon footprint. Your Account Management team will provide you with actionable data to set and achieve sustainability goals.
Are You Proactive about Sharps Disposal?
To avoid inadvertent injury and to be compliant with government regulations, organizations should change sharps receptacles before they are full. Sharps containers should be removed and replaced when they are three quarters full. Establishing a proactive policy that ensures a consistent process for needle disposal in accordance with local regulations for biomedical waste, including the cleaning and proactive exchange of containers.
Is Your Waste Tracked?
There are numerous federal, provincial, and local regulations governing sharps disposal and processing. Visibility into waste tracking can significantly help your organization ensure compliance. Since Stericycle uses a bar-coded labelling system, it can electronically track all sharps waste containers, allowing you to monitor disposal from start to finish and easily demonstrate compliance with relevant regulations.
When it comes to proper sharps disposal and waste management compliance, understanding your organization’s current processes, and identifying top strengths and weaknesses is crucial. Working with a knowledgeable and experienced waste disposal partner like Stericycle can help your organization overcome existing sharps waste disposal challenges, improve safety and compliance, and allow staff to concentrate on its core mission — providing patient care. Find out how Stericycle can meet your sharps waste management needs.