Sharps container with glove

July 07, 2023

4 Steps To Reliable & Consistent Sharps Disposal

Mitigate the Risk of Sharps-Related Injuries and Illnesses

Proper and consistent sharps disposal is an essential step in preserving staff and patient safety.  A solid sharps disposal program helps prevent needlestick and other sharps-related injuries, limiting the potential spread of bloodborne pathogens in health care facilities and also the surrounding communities.

Establishing a reliable sharps program requires strategic planning and an appreciation of the applicable regulations. Here are key four steps to guide implementation of a comprehensive sharps disposal initiative at your facility.

Step One: Understand How Sharps Waste is Regulated

The management of sharps waste is highly regulated due to its potentially hazardous nature. Several regulatory bodies oversee various aspects of sharps waste management. For example, both the Federal and the Provincial Ministries of the Environment govern the impacts of biohazardous waste on the environment, while Transport Canada also oversees how sharps waste is transported. The Canada Labour Code and Provincial Labour Ministries address the worker safety implications regarding bloodborne pathogen transmission and cover topics like proper waste containers, staff training, and injury reporting.

When developing or refining a sharps waste management program, be sure to check provincial regulations first and then examine the federal ones to make certain a program is in full compliance.

Step Two: Select the Right Containers

Sharps waste must be disposed of directly into a puncture-resistant container designed for this purpose. There are Provincial and Federal requirements regarding sharps containers that should be considered when selecting them.

Another consideration is whether to use disposable or reusable containers. Reusable containers, which help keep plastic out of landfills, may be used, as long as they are decontaminated and cleaned after every use. 

Step Three: Select the Optimal Locations

Sharps containers should be placed in areas where needles, scalpels, the exposed ends of dental wires and other types of sharps are frequently generated, which most often means patient care locations, laboratories, pharmacies, and so on. They should be convenient and easily accessible so employees don’t have to walk far distances to reach a sharps container, thereby reducing the risk of a needle stick injury.

In some cases, an organization may opt to secure a sharps container to a mobile cart for even greater accessibility when staff move from room to room. To choose the right locations, safety leaders should observe the clinical environment to identify the most appropriate disposal points based on staff usage and workflow.

Step Four: Properly Install and Maintain Containers

Another key consideration involves keeping sharps containers in an upright position throughout use to avoid tipping. This requires organizations to secure containers appropriately as well as to replace the containers routinely to avoid overfilling.

To help with this effort, some waste management partners provide the service of picking up the full containers and providing clean empties. This removes the reordering burden from staff so they can focus on their core mission, while ensuring continuous compliance.

Get Peace of Mind with Specialized Expertise

When establishing a sharps disposal program, it is wise to consult with a highly-specialized resource that is knowledgeable in the requirements of the several regulatory bodies in the country as well as different disposal options. Let Stericycle’s biomedical waste disposal and sharps management services help you reach your goals and streamline the disposal process at your organization.

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