Sharps waste is a form of medical waste composed of used sharps, which includes any device or object used to puncture or lacerate the skin. Sharps waste is classified as biohazardous waste and must be carefully handled. Common medical materials treated as sharps waste are:
In addition to syringes and injection devices anything attached to them will also be considered sharps waste. Examples of such attachments could be a syringe, tube, or vacutainer. The entire complex is treated as one unit of sharps waste, even though the attached item cannot puncture or lacerate the skin.The category of blades can include razors, scalpels, x-acto knives, scissors, or any other medical items used for cutting in the medical setting. Both needles and blades are always treated and handled with the highest concern as sharps waste. This is regardless of if they have been contaminated with biohazardous material. While glass and plastic are considered sharps waste, their handling methods can vary. Glass and plastic items, which have been contaminated with a biohazardous material, will be treated with the same concern as needles and blades (even if unbroken). If not contaminated, broken glass and plastic is still a sharp waste but does not pose the same public health risk. Therefore broken glass and plastic that has not been contaminated is not handled as delicately. Some common medical items of this category are test tubes, microscope slides, culture dishes, pipettes, and vials.
As a biohazardous material, injuries from sharps waste can pose a large public health concern. By penetrating the skin it is possible for this waste to spread blood-borne pathogens. The spread of these pathogens is directly responsible for the transmission of blood-borne diseases such as Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), and HIV. Health care professionals expose themselves to the risk of transmission of these diseases when handling sharps waste.
The general public can be at direct risk to injuries from sharps waste as well. If these hazardous materials are not separated from standard waste, individuals can unknowingly come in contact with them. In addition, if sharps waste is not disposed, and removed from the environment, then it can be subject to reuse and misuse (both intentional and unintentional). This is especially applicable in the areas of hypodermic needles and blades. The spread of disease through sharps waste is preventable through proper management and disposal.
A sharp container is specially designed for safe disposal of sharps waste. Extreme care must be taken in the management and disposal of sharps waste. The main goal in sharps waste management is to safely handle all materials until they can be properly disposed. The final step in the disposal of sharps waste is to dispose of them in an autoclave. Steps must be taken along the way to minimize the risk of injury from this material, while maximizing the amount of sharps material disposed. From the moment sharps waste is produced it is to be handled as little as possible. If the sharps waste incorporates an additional part, such as a syringe, tube, or handle the whole unit is disposed together. Attempts to disassemble sharps waste is kept to a minimum. Strict protocols and government regulations ensure that the handling of sharps waste safely and dispose effectively.
The self locking and sealable containers are made of plastic so that the sharps waste can not easily penetrate through the sides. The unit is designed so that the whole container can be disposed of with the other biohazardous waste. Single use sharps containers of various sizes are sold throughout the world. These are colored red and labeled for biohazardous sharps waste.
For more information on disposal of sharps go to www.sharpsinc.com