Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Sharps Disposal

Do you ever think of where all used medical equipment goes, or how they are disposed of? These are the questions that not many people know or ask about; however, they are essential to know to keep your business safe. Although medical equipment is essential for saving lives and treating diseases, it can also be life-threatening due to improper disposal and wastage. If you are worried about the correct way of disposing of sharps, then we have the answers below to all your questions: 

A picture of assorted sharps and needles

Can Any Medical Instrument Be Considered Sharp?

A sharp can be described as any equipment or instrument that can cut or puncture the skin. It has sharp edges or points to serve its purpose. A needle, lancet, syringe, or injection device can all be considered sharps.

Since they are sharp and can easily hurt someone, they are used with extra care and should be disposed of with equal concern. Sharp equipment should always be used under proper procedures and properly disposed of.

Why is it So Important to Properly Dispose of Medical Sharps?

Just like illnesses are infectious and can affect other people, using medical sharps, in the same way, can be contagious. In addition to causing infections, improper disposal can lead these sharps to cause needle sticks and injuries to people when exposed.

This transmission of infectious diseases can cause great harm, as people who come in contact with these sharps can very easily contract HBV (Hepatitis B), HCV (Hepatitis C), and HIV (Immunodeficiency Virus). These diseases can sometimes be fatal and should be avoided at all costs by ensuring proper sharps disposal and handling the wastage process effectively. This can be achieved through the cradle to grave waste disposal process.

Many countries in the world have declared used medical sharps as a biohazard, making it compulsory for them to be properly disposed of separately from any household trash and disposal. When there are such strict laws and rules regarding medical sharps, the reason why proper sharps disposal is so necessary should be evident now. 

Which are the Best Sharps Containers to Use?

Hard plastic containers with a tight lid should be used for proper sharps disposal. These containers should have a biohazard label to avoid mixing them up with other trash. Usually, sharps containers have tight lids to secure the biohazardous waste. If you need a sharps container at home and do not have time to pick up a proper sharps container, you can also opt for other boxes with a screw-on cover or cap, just like a detergent bottle, temporarily. Make sure that the screw-on cover is tightly sealed and covered every time the container is used, to avoid any spillage or leakage. Additionally, make absolutely sure that all parties involved with use, pickup, transportation, and disposal of sharps are well aware of the contents of the container.

Normal plastic or glass containers should be avoided as they fail to serve the purpose. Such containers have lids and covers that come off easily, making sharps come in contact with other trash or spill. Rigid plastic containers are recommended, so they can't tear off easily and can effectively tolerate sharp equipment and needles.

Where to Buy Sharps Containers From?

There are many medical facilities where you can buy sharps containers from. You can either order them from online medical providers, or pick them up from local disposal companies and pharmacies. The medical providers offer you the best quality for sharps containers, as these boxes should be made of hard plastic, marked correctly, and have tight lids for proper security.

The sharps containers can be replaced easily by your nearest medical store or pharmacy, so you shouldn't worry. If you can’t find a hard plastic container, you can even buy a sharps container made from normal plastic, but with a screw-on cover or a tight lid.

These sharps containers are not very difficult to buy or find, as they are essential medical equipment. Just make sure to have a high-quality sharps container so it can tolerate the sharpness of the equipment. Plus, these containers should be leakage-resistant and air-tight as well, so they do not leak any liquid or fluid that can harm or affect people in the surrounding area.

What Color Label Should a Contaminated Sharps Container Be?

The color of a contaminated sharps container should be mostly red, as this color attracts everyone's attention and makes it clear that the container possesses hazardous substances. This color alerts everyone, so they do not touch or hold the box without being fully covered.

Most countries use the color red to indicate sharps containers. However, in Europe, yellow/purple color is used for contaminated sharps containers. The color of a sharps container should be distinguished from others, so it is placed and treated differently. 

There is a color code for sharps containers as well.

These containers should also be labeled properly to avoid any confusion. Big and bright stickers, or alert signs should be pasted on these boxes to avoid people getting in contact with them or touching them without the right equipment. To carry or handle sharp containers, one should be well prepared and equipped with proper protection as well.

How to Dispose of Sharps?

Sharps containers carry various types of sharp medical instruments that can easily cause needle sticks and injuries to anyone. For this reason, it becomes important to empty the sharps container as soon as it’s full to avoid any leakage or spillage.

Once the container is full, it should be emptied right away by a professional waste management expert. It is up to you whether you want to assign a professional biohazard removal service to dispose of all your wastage properly and in time or you can also designate a waste management expert to do the job on your premises.

Who should empty a designated sharps container is a question of great relevance and importance. You certainly wouldn't want to risk anyone's life because of improper waste regulations.

What are the Official Sharps Wastage Regulations for Disposal?

Different countries have different regulations regarding sharps. For example, some states have declared sharps waste as a biohazard, meaning that this waste should never enter your regular trash.

On the other hand, some states have regulated sharps to be considered as regular house trash and can be disposed of in normal plastic containers with covers. So, it greatly depends on which state and country you live in to understand the sharp waste procedures there. 

However, in any case, these sharps should be handled with utmost care and protection, as even the slightest contact can get you infected with fatal diseases.

What are Biohazard Bags?

Biohazard bags are used for medical waste, an everyday activity in laboratories and hospitals. Nurses, lab technicians, and doctors use these biohazard bags for handling medical waste, and even for transporting medical elements.

Such specimen bags are used in laboratories and hospitals to transport samples or for specimen examination and paperwork. These specimen bags are often used to transport specimens to diagnostic labs for sampling and testing. 

Specimen bags even have pockets and pouches attached to them for important paperwork or documents, to accompany them while the specimen is transported. These pouches or pockets are pretty helpful, as they keep the important records dry and safe throughout the transit. 

Then, there are also waste biohazard bags which are used to carry medical wastes like tissues, bandages, swabs, blood, hospital radioactive wastage, bodily fluids, and other contaminated waste material that can be extremely hazardous to humans and the environment.

This wastage material can be of any form, liquid or dry; so, these biohazard bags need to be extra thick and strong to avoid any spilling or contamination. 

What Color are Biohazard Bags?

Biohazard bags, as the name suggests, contain all hazardous elements such as bodily fluids, blood, swabs, human tissues, syringes, needles, and radioactive hospital wastage. The reason these bags contain such hazardous elements is that they can be distinguished from other wastage materials, so they are handled with utmost care and attention. 

The biohazard bags are usually of two colors, red and yellow. Both are bright and prominent colors to grab people's attention, and to make people aware that these should be handled with care. Each biohazard bag serves a different purpose and is used for different elements. Details of what each bag contains and is used for are as below:

Red Biohazard Bags

Red biohazard bags are used for anatomical wastage, such as human bodily fluids, saliva, semen, tissues, organs, and sometimes animal carcasses. These bags are even used to dispose of elements like specimen swabs, medical apparatus, gloves, blood-soaked drapes, and anything which is contaminated with bodily fluids or blood.

Simplifying what goes in red biohazard bags, its all the elements and equipment contaminated with human blood and fluids. Because these bags are only used for fluids, you should never put alcohols, chemicals, solvents, lead, pharmaceutical waste, radioactive waste, tubing, apparatus, beverage containers, or any food wrappers in the bag.

Yellow Biohazard Bags

Clinical wastage such as dressings, swabs, tissues, aprons, pads, soiled gloves, and diapers all go into yellow biohazard bags. These bags are used for the collection of IV tubes and fluid bags for metallic parts, pharmaceutical medicines, and syringes.

As these yellow biohazard bags are only used for infectious and clinical wastage, other wastage such as anatomical waste, pathological waste, non-infectious waste, domestic waste, and placental waste should not be put in these waste bags.

How to Dispose of a Biohazard Bag?

Biohazard bags are plastic bags, unlike hard plastic containers. These bags, when disposed of, should be handled with extra care, as they are more prone to tearing or spilling the contents on you. This is why it is always better to use hand gloves before handling a biohazard bag. 

Before disposing of it, make sure that there is nothing left; look for a final sweep before closing the bag. Then, seal the bag as tight as you can so no contents can spill out. Some bags often come with adhesive strips or strings to tightly seal them.

Dispose of the bags at their designated place and change your gloves immediately afterwards. Then call your disposal company to schedule a pick up.

Conclusion

Sharp containers and biohazard bags are used for waste and disposal of medical equipment and elements that can significantly harm humans and the environment if not disposed of the correct way. Special hard containers are used to waste medical sharps that can cause needle sticks and injuries. 

On the other hand, biohazard bags are equally important for disposing of bodily liquids and medical solutions as these solvents and fluids can be equally damaging if they come in contact with a healthy person.

This is why it is important to be aware of your state or country's medical waste guidelines and not cause any harm to yourself or the people around you. For more information regarding identifying the right sharps container for your business, reach out to us directly.