It is important to keep sharps out of regular waste collection and recycling systems. The health and safety of everyone in the community should not be put at risk. Safe disposal of sharps mitigates the risk of injury to others as well as reduces environmental pollution.
What items are considered as sharps?
Sharps are considered to be any objects with sharp points or edges. These can include needles, blades, razors, syringes, etc. Surgical instruments used in human healthcare activities, veterinary care, and medical research also fall under this category. Drug administration is also a big source of sharps waste.
Community sharps are medical sharp devices used at home or places other than formal medical services or medical facilities such as hospitals. These include sharps such as syringes, pen needles, glucose monitors, needles used to administer insulin and lancets or finger prickers.
Sharps have the potential to cause injury.
Sharps are extremely dangerous as they are capable of cutting or piercing the skin.Injuries from improperly discarded sharps or needle sticks impose a health and safety risk to anyone who comes in contact with them. When used sharps penetrate the skin one can end up with serious infections and other diseases.
Which are the public spaces that sharps can be found in?
It is not uncommon to find used and discarded sharps in a wide range of public and private spaces. Some of the public places include rubbish bins, parks, public restrooms, public gardens and sports fields. Sharps waste can also be found in rented properties and other forms of temporary residences. Abandoned houses and squats can be hotspots for drug users and hence sharps waste will be higher there.
Sharps waste should be discarded in designated sharps waste containers.
Persons who inject drugs should safely and appropriately dispose of their used injecting equipment.
This can be done in the following methods:
- Returning the equipment to a needle and syringe exchange program (NSEP).
- Placing the sharps in a special disposal unit provided by some local governments or businesses.
Follow certain steps when sharps, needles and syringes are found in public.
When used needles and syringes are found in public places of the community, it can be a concern for the people who find them. In such cases, the first step is not to be alarmed. Here’s what you can do next.
- Get a hard-walled container with a secure lid. The container should be puncture resistant. Glass containers, frosted plastic and aluminium that can be crushed should be avoided.
- Place the container on the ground next to the needle or syringe. Do not touch the sharps pointed end, but pick it up by the blunt end, putting the pointed end first into the container.
- Do not hold the container as you put the sharps in. If the plastic protective cap has been removed, do not try to put it back on the needle.
- You can fill more than one needle or syringe in, but do not overfill the container.
Tightly seal the container, label it and put it in a domestic rubbish bin.