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EHSS
Waste Management

EHS
Waste Management

3. Sharps Waste Management

3.1 Definition

A sharp is any device having corners, edges, or projections capable of cutting or piercing the skin (Figure 3-1). LBNL's definition of sharps includes regulated sharps (medical waste), unregulated biohazardous sharps, and unregulated uncontaminated sharps that pose a safety hazard to the custodians and other personnel.

The following items are considered sharps at LBNL and should be placed in a sharps container (whether or not they are contaminated with medical/biohazardous waste).

        Needles

Figure 3-1. Examples of sharps.

        Needles with syringes

        Needles from vacutainers

        Needles with attached tubing

        Blades (razors, scalpels, X-acto, etc.)

The following items contaminated with medical/biohazardous waste must be placed in a sharps container:

        Broken glassware

        Glassware with sharp edges or points

        Pasteur pipettes

        Glass slides

The following items may be placed in a rigid container and marked with the words Broken Glassware and placed in the sanitary trash only if they are not contaminated with medical/biohazardous waste:

        Broken glassware

        Glassware with sharp edges or points

        Pasteur pipettes

        Glass slides


3.2 Sharps Containers

 
 

Figure 3-2. Examples of sharps
containers for medical waste.

Sharps containers (Figure 3-2) should be RED and must be puncture-resistant and labeled as sharps waste, or with a biohazard symbol and the word biohazard, or as unregulated sharps, as specified in the following sections. Sharps containers must be placed in the laboratory near the area of sharps waste generation. Do not overfill sharps containers.

In the case of sharps that are contaminated with biological materials that are covered under the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard, the sharps container must be leakproof on the sides and bottom, and must be easily accessible to personnel and located as close as feasible to the immediate area where sharps are used.

 


flag 3.3 Sharps Waste Disposal Procedures for Biohazardous Areasflag

flag 3.3.1  Sharps Waste Disposal Procedures for Medical Waste (Red Bag) Areas flag

Sharps containers used for medical waste (red-bag laboratories) must be made of rigid material so as to be puncture-resistant and labeled with the words “sharps waste,” or with a biohazard symbol and the word “biohazard.”  The following section describes the disposal procedures for a full sharps container.

Sharps disposal

Figure 3-3. Wear appropriate PPE when handling sharps waste.

 

Wear appropriate PPE when handling sharps waste (e.g., lab coat, gloves, safety glasses).

Close the lid on the sharps container when it is full (do not overfill). As a best- management practice, sharps containers should not be more than 2/3 full.

Exception: If you place blood vials containing fluid blood in a sharps container, then the sharps container must be disposed of within seven days, whether or not the sharps container is full.

Hand-carry the sharps container to a biohazardous waste container in your lab or to your nearest medical waste accumulation pickup container. Make sure the biohazardous waste accumulation container or the pickup container is lined with a red biohazard bag before depositing the sharps container. After depositing the sharps container, close the lid on the biohazard container.

If depositing the sharps container into a pickup container, fill out the Medical Waste Accumulation Log. Wash your hands after removing your gloves.

Remember, do not store full sharps containers in the lab; immediately transfer them to a biohazardous waste container.

flag 3.3.2 flag Sharps Waste Disposal Procedures for Biohazardous Areas That Use Clear Biohazard Bags

Sharps containers used for biohazardous waste in laboratories using clear bags can be red in color and must be made of rigid material so as to be puncture-resistant and labeled with the words unregulated sharps. The following section describes the disposal procedures for a full sharps container in an area that produces biohazardous waste and uses clear biohazard bags.

Wear the appropriate PPE when handling sharps waste (e.g., lab coat, gloves, safety glasses).

Figure 3-4. An example of
an unregulated sharps container.

 

Close the lid on the sharps container when it is full (do not overfill). As a best-management practice, sharps containers should not be more than 2/3 full.

Hand-carry the sharps container to a biohazardous waste container in your lab or your nearest medical waste accumulation pickup container. Make sure that the biohazardous waste accumulation container is lined with a clear bag or that the pickup container is lined with a red biohazard bag before depositing the sharps container. After depositing the sharps container, close the lid on the biohazard container.

If you are depositing the sharps container into a pickup container, fill out the Medical Waste Accumulation Log. Wash your hands after removing your gloves.

flag 3.3.3 flag Sharps Waste Contaminated with Radioactive and/or Chemical Materials

Sharps wastes that are contaminated with radioactive and/or chemical materials are not regulated as medical waste. They are regulated as radioactive, mixed, or chemical waste, depending on the contamination. These sharps must not be put into the medical/biohazard sharps containers. Refer to LBNL/PUB-3092, Guidelines for Generators to Meet HWHF Acceptance Requirements, for proper disposal of these sharps, or contact your Generator Assistant.

 

3.4 Sharps Waste from a Radioactive Materials Area (RMA)

Sharps waste originating from an RMA must be below minimum detection levels for radioactivity. By signing the Medical Waste Accumulation Log, the generator is certifying that there is no detectable radioactivity in the waste. If you are unsure whether there is radioactive contamination in your sharps waste, please contact your Radiation Control Technician.

 

3.5 Sharps Waste Disposal Procedures for Unregulated Nonbiohazardous Areas

Sharps are also generated in unregulated nonbiohazardous areas like shops, offices, and warehouses. These sharps, even though not contaminated with medical/biohazardous waste, must also be disposed of in sharps containers. This policy is in place to protect custodians and other employees from puncture wounds. The following items are considered sharps at LBNL and should be placed in a sharps container

        Needles

        Needles with syringes

        Needles from vacutainers

        Needles with attached tubing

        Blades (razors, scalpels, X-acto, etc.)

Since these are uncontaminated sharps, remove or cover any biohazard symbols or labeling that says biohazardous or infectious waste. Label the container Unregulated Sharps. These sharps must also be free from chemical and/or radioactive contamination.

Sharps containers from unregulated nonbiohazardous areas must be transferred to the nearest medical waste pickup container by following the procedures outlined in flagSharps Waste Disposal Procedures for Biohazardous Areas using Clear Biohazard Bags.flag Fill out the Medical Waste Accumulation Log and describe the waste as an unregulated sharps container.

3.6 Uncontaminated Glassware Disposal Procedures

 
 

Figure 3-5. Uncontaminated glassware ready for disposal.

Laboratory glassware free from any biohazardous, radioactive, and chemical contamination should be disposed of by packaging in a cardboard box or other rigid container. This policy includes the disposal of the following uncontaminated items:

        Broken glass

        Pasteur pipettes

        Glass slides

        Glass vials

 

When the box containing the glassware is full, seal the box closed and label Broken Glass. Set the box out for janitorial pickup. Although any rigid container or cardboard box may be used, you can also purchase cardboard boxes made especially for glassware disposal.