Home self-injectors only need to worry about proper disposal of their sharps.
For regulated businesses, such as healthcare faculties, in addition to sharps, regulated medical waste is defined by OSHA as:
*OPIM: semen, vaginal secretions; fluids from around the spine, brain, joints, lungs, heart, and abdomen; saliva in a dental procedure; any body fluid with visible blood; any unidentifiable body fluid; and unfixed tissue.
Examples of non-sharps regulated medical waste include Tubing with blood in it and Blood-soaked gauze. Regulated medical waste does not include urine, feces, sputum, sweat, tears, or saliva or any items containing or once containing these fluids such as urine cups, incontinence pads, or diapers.
It is standard practice in developed, and even underdeveloped countries for used needles to be placed immediately into a sharps container after a single use, with only a few exceptions to the general rule. Sharing needles is often the cause of AIDS(HIV) and other blood-borne infections spreading among intravenous drug users. For this same reason, it is extremely important to place used sharps into sharps container in order to prevent spreading infection from needlestick injuries to medical personnel.
During the past ten years, an increased worldwide focus on safety and environmental impact has led to several positive government mandates being issued with regards to engineered medical device standards and the reduction of clinical waste output from health facilities. This has resulted in a move toward reusable containers with built-in safety devices such as trays and locking devices. In the United States, sharps disposal regulations differ in each state. However, OSHA has been known to heavily fine healthcare facilities for failure to use safety devices. Be sure that you meet your state and federal guidelines and check that your facility does carry the required containers. The most common sharps containers are built with red plastic in the United States, and yellow plastic everywhere else.
When determining the specific type and brand of sharps containter to purchase you may be tempted to purchase some of the cheaper alternatives, but you should factor in the cost of sharps injury prevention for your facility beforehand. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) has created a simple workbook to design, implement, and evaluate your Sharps Injury Prevention Program. Here is a direct link to the workbook. Be sure to remember not only to pay attention to the direct cost of the containers but also to pay close attention to the indirect costs related to needlestick/sharps injury prevention, the estimate of costs of injuries of certain types of devices, and the comparison of costs of conventional devices to devices with safety features. The value of being in sharps compliance with high quality sharps containers with built-in safety features is well worth the cost.
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