4 Facts about Disposal of Sharps that Laboratory Technicians Must Know

Clinical by-products like sharps, lab waste and human tissue can lead to issues like infection and acute injuries. Notably, if you have a laboratory facility, you will likely encounter sharps waste, which are devices or abandoned objects that can penetrate or cut one's skin. Examples of sharps include broken glass, needles, scalpel blades, and hard plastics. Here are a few facts that novice medical laboratory technicians must know about sharps and their safe disposal.

Risk of Sharps -- The problem with sharps is that when they are disposed of in an unsafe manner, they have the potential to cause injuries. For instance, when dumped on the open ground, needles can puncture or cut people, leading to injuries. Also, some sharps can come into contact with body fluids such as blood and microbiological materials that can lead to diseases. Therefore, safe handling of such waste is critical to eliminate or minimize exposure to your staff and other people.

Handling of Sharps -- It is not recommended to reuse disposable needles. However, when there are approved safety devices to clean such sharps, then reuse is advisable under certain conditions. Most importantly, you should never try to break, clip, or bend needles in the absence of a personal protective device, as you risk causing injuries. Therefore, always place used sharps in designated sharps collection containers that have been labelled accordingly. If you must carry sharps, then use kidney dishes to reduce the risk of injuries and infection.

Placement of Containers for Disposal of Sharps --Your lab should have adequate containers that have been placed strategically for ease of access and disposal of hazardous waste. The general idea is to limit the distance between the medical waste and the disposal containers. As such, it is recommended to attach the pouches to trolleys in the lab for ease of collection. However, where there is a potential for children to access the facility, the sharps containers must be located on upper shelves or levels out of reach of children.

Disposal of Sharps -- There are several ways of disposing of discarded sharps. If you have an incinerator at your facility, then you can use it to eliminate this type of waste. Other conventional methods are chemical disinfection, microwaving, and landfill disposal. Alternatively, you can hire professionals who know a thing or two about safe disposal of bio-hazardous waste to dispose of the waste in the proper manner.