10 Dec A Brief History of Sharps Containers

Found in virtually every hospital and medical facility in the U.S, sharps containers are our best defense against needlesticks and the spread of bacteria, such as C. Diff. But we haven’t always used the modern, plastic containers seen posted to the walls of medical facilities today.

Just 30 years ago health care providers had quite different standards when it came to disposing of used sharps. It was not uncommon to see the use of used mayonnaise jars or even orange juice cartons with the top cut off as deposits for used sharps! Also, no government department was clearly in charge of the disposal of medical waste, and in the late 70’s there was an outcry from the general public when used sharps were found washed up on beaches. Of course, these practices would be unacceptable in any medical facility of the U.S today. With much more clear knowledge on how diseases can be transferred, along with advances in technology, we have been able to develop many different (and safer) sharps containers.

Nowadays, most medical facilities prefer to use reusable sharps containers that comply with OSHA standard 1910. 1030(d)(iii)(A). These sharps containers are closable, leak-proof, puncture-proof and come with clear warning labels. Thanks to new and improved sharps containers, we’ve been able to cut back on the transfer of diseases such as C. Diff, as well as severely reduce needlestick incidents.

Reusable sharps containers are not only cost efficient for today’s hospitals, but they also help to reduce their carbon footprint. Reusable containers mean less carbon emissions, lower plastic use and reduced landfill waste. I think we can all agree that the advances in sharps containers has improved the quality of work for all health care workers.