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Is Glass Part of Sharps?

The incidence of sharps injuries is increasing. There are currently over 300 000 sharps incidents each year in the US. This doesn’t only harm the healthcare workers involved but costs the facilities huge amounts of money each year.

Research has shown that many institutions are neglecting to follow OSHA’s 2001 revision of the Blood-borne Pathogen Standard and the Needle-stick Safety and Prevention Act of 2000. Both regulations highlight safety and hold the healthcare industry accountable.

There are a few important steps that managers can take to minimize the risk of sharps injury. These include yearly staff education and training, as well as providing the means to dispose of sharps such as approved plastic buckets. More training is required about whether glass is supposed to be part of sharps waste.

OSHA’s Blood-borne Pathogens Standard makes it clear that sharps include anything that can pierce a worker’s skin. This includes needles, scalpels, broken glass or capillary tubes. This definition includes Petri dishes, lab slides and other glass items. Certain types of hard plastic can also puncture the skin and if it’s been contaminated with hazardous materials it is considered a sharp.

So, to be clear, any glass that’s been contaminated, even if unbroken, is treated as a sharp because it may yet break in the disposal process.