Last week, I was out for a walk and found a discarded needle on the ground in the parking lot of my local grocery store. It was concerning on many levels but mostly because of the potential risk it posed to the people using the lot. After calling the information line for the City and speaking to the Police, I was told the owner of the property is responsible to remove and dispose of the needle.
I went in to inform the owners of the grocery store of the needle and what the police had said. No problem, they told me they would send out a person to remove and dispose of the needle. I was impressed and went outside to wait. It was 5 minutes later they sent an employee with a broom and a dustpan - suddenly not so impressed.
Speaking with the employee (a student) he did not understand the risk, had no training and no procedure to follow to ensure his safety, let alone any idea of how to safely dispose of the needle.
Unfortunately for many reasons discarded needles are a part of our new environment. Certainly the people using the needles should dispose of them properly but when they don't , we all need to know what to do to ensure our safety. If your a property owner/employer you need to ensure you have taken all steps reasonable to protect the worker (sound familiar).
Start with a procedure based on the assessment of the risk, specific to the workplace. Involve the employees and learn about your local handling and disposal requirements. A quick look around on the internet and found conflicting information on how to handle the syringe, what containers to use and how to safe disposal. Check your local requirements starting with the health department. Available training on sharps hards and bloodborne pathogens
Sharing some other links to information from the City of Toronto on Needle Disposal, Needle Safety and Workplace Safety Poster. These seem reasonable and a good set of references to get your procedures on the right track. Please contact me, if you need any assistance or further information.
Available Training on Bloodborne Pathogens - Click the link below