How to Dispose of a Syringe
How to Dispose of Discarded Needles and Sharp Objects Safely
Do you know how to dispose of spilled sharps properly? Spilled sharps waste poses a health threat to anyone in the vicinity, especially when biohazardous substances are involved. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandate that all generators of waste must have the following in place: housekeeping procedures for cleaning biohazardous waste spills (including sharps), appropriate disinfectants for different substances, and appropriate disposal processes for waste such as sharps and biohazardous substances.
Wear appropriate PPE.Make sure you are wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) before collecting medical waste or performing decontaminating procedures. PPE provides a barrier against your skin, so you can work with biohazardous substances without contracting pathogens or coming in contact with hazardous substances. Laws mandate that PPE must be worn when there is anticipated splashing of body fluids. Splashes may also occur during decontamination, also making PPE necessary. Essential PPE items that must be worn during decontamination include gloves, masks, goggles and aprons or gowns.
Close the area and contain the spill.Sharps spills present a hazard to anyone. No one wants to sustain a contaminated needlestick injury by simply walking in a hallway. Prevent further harm by enclosing the affected area to limit others’ access. Cordon the area and place hazard signs to alert individuals about the spill. Contain spills involving large amounts of fluids so that the contamination will not spread. This can be done by placing inert material like sand or clothing around the spill.
Procure appropriate waste disposal container(s) and kit(s), along with cleaning equipment.After you’ve protected yourself and communicated the hazard, the next thing you should do is acquire equipment for cleaning, and appropriate containers for sharps and hazardous waste. Cleaning equipment must work properly as intended, and must be either cleanable or disposable. Only use cleaning equipment and materials that are effective in cleaning contaminants in the spill. Always use appropriate containers for the waste. For example, use a red bag for biohazardous waste and sharps disposal containers for sharps.
Use a dustpan and broom or tongs to carefully pick up each sharp and place it in a sharps disposal container.Before starting the actual cleaning or decontamination, it is necessary to remove sharps first. Attempting to decontaminate a spill with sharps still present is hazardous. Avoid puncture injuries by removing sharps using tongs, or with a broom and dustpan, before the actual cleaning. Do not pick up sharps using your hands, even if you wear gloves! Always place sharps in sharps disposal containers that follow OSHA specifications.
Use appropriate decontamination agents.Use appropriate decontaminating methods to clean the spill. Decontamination removes, inactivates or dissolves the hazardous agent. The decontaminating agent or method must be tested and proven effective against the substances in the spill. Examples of appropriate cleaning tools for decontamination are the use of absorbents for liquids. Using alcohols or ether solvents for spills involving nonpolar compounds is an example of inactivation decontamination. Spills involving inorganic compounds and salts may be decontaminated by dissolving them in water. Check with your hospital or institution for the up-to-date, most appropriate decontamination agents or methods to clean up a particular spill.
Disinfect the area with appropriate disinfectant.You may need to disinfect a spill that contains pathological substances. Even if visible pieces of sharps or other biohazardous waste have been removed, you need to disinfect the area to remove any infectious substances that are not visible to the eye.
Do not forget to close disposal containers.After cleaning the spill and placing the waste into containers, make sure to close the waste containers to reduce the risk of spills. OSHA guidelines describe the type of containers that should be used to prevent spills.
Disinfect and inspect cleaning equipment.Make sure to clean the cleaning equipment itself thoroughly after it is used on spills containing sharps waste, biohazardous waste, or chemical waste. In addition, inspect equipment for signs of wear and replace it if necessary.
Label all waste disposal bags and seal them completely.Do not forget to label waste disposal bags. Place a secure biohazard sign on containers and bags that contain biohazardous waste. Include sharps warning labels for sharps.
Dispose of sharps using the appropriate method for your workplace.Institutions have different methods of disposal for medical waste. Some methods include drop box or supervised collection sites, mail-back programs, or disposal through waste disposal contractors.
Complete proper documentation and report the incident.Make sure that the spill is reported in accordance with local and state laws.
- Ensure you keep at a sensible distance between the sharp object and your body.
- Always take care when dealing with sharp objects - particularly discarded needles.
- Do not touch the sharp object but use forceps or safe hand needle picker included within the sharps handling kits.
Video: Complete Needle Collection & Disposal System
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