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Plastic Sharps Containers Safety Features

In general, sharps containers used for discarding contaminated needles must be closable, puncture-resistant, leakproof on the sides and bottom, and appropriately labeled or color coded (1910.1030(d)(4) (iii)(A)(1)). Additionally, the Occupational Exposure to Bloodborne Pathogens Standard (1910.1030) prohibits needle removal unless the employer can demonstrate that no alternative is feasible or that such action is required by a specific medical procedure. Needle removal must be accomplished through the use of a mechanical device or a properly performed one-handed technique (1910.1030(d)(2)(vii)(B)). Sharps containers which have well designed unwinders may be used.

Sharps containers should consider the following safety features:

  1. The sharps container should be designed so that it is easily and safely determined when the container needs to be emptied; this avoids overfilling and reduces the risk of injury.
  2. The sharps container with an unwinder should be stabilized (secured to a wall, table, or tray) to prevent slipping during use.
  3. The design of the unwinder must allow the employee to use the unwinder with a one-handed technique; that is, the employee must not be required to secure the needle with one hand while it is being unwound by the other hand.
  4. The unwinder should be designed so that the needles do not slip or slide within the unwinder during the needle removal process; the unwinder should provide a secure capture that prevents movement of the needle while it is removed.
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