It has to be one of the most mystifying aspects of managing a commercial restroom – the why, where and how of sharps disposal. We’re here to clarify the process of choosing, installing and managing sharps containers in Australia as well as other safety products for your commercial washrooms.
First up, why install sharps disposal containers in the first place?
Sharps disposal containers are installed to safely hold sharp items, which can include syringes, lancets, infusion sets, connection needles, auto-injectors and more – essentially, anything that can present the risk of spreading blood borne pathogens. Sharps are used in the management of many common medical conditions in the community such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, allergies, renal failure and infertility. They might also be used for the administration of illicit drugs.
As such, sharps containers are an important part of Australian workplace health and safety – as well as public health and safety. These containers are commonly installed in commercial businesses such as tattooists, medical centres, chemists, acupuncturists and vet surgeries. Sharps disposal containers should also be installed in any commercial washrooms that members of the public use, including shopping centres, airports, community centres and public bathrooms.
Disposal requirements for sharps containers in Australia
If you’re installing a sharps container in your commercial facilities, then not just any container will do. The Australian Standards of AS 4031 – 1992 and AS/NZS 4261 – 1994 require the use of a rigid, non-reusable and puncture-proof container. The container must be yellow and marked with both the biohazard symbol and a fill line to ensure the container does not become blocked or overfilled.
There are no specific standards as to the outer housing for a sharps container, but it’s important that they are clearly identifiable in a yellow colour, vandal-proof and lockable with key only access. We provide both compliant sharps containers and robust container outers that can be fixed to a wall.
How and where do I install the sharps container?
As with all bathroom accessories, it’s vital to take into account safe access for all bathroom users. Sharps containers should be fixed to the wall with their opening no less than 1300mm from the ground, as per AS1428, 1992 – Design for access and mobility. This ensures people can access it from both a standing and a seated position, without the risk of children being able to reach the container.
How do I dispose of the contents of sharps containers?
Sharps container disposal is classed as biohazardous and related waste, and as such there are specific disposal requirements set by each state and territory’s environmental protection authority. If you have a sharps container in your commercial washroom you will be required to employ a suitable waste disposal contractor to remove used sharps. These contractors must adhere to certain strict conditions to ensure waste is disposed of safely, such as documenting and destroying sharps in a suitable manner.
What about other safety products for commercial washrooms?
Safety products in a washroom might also include nappy bins and sanitary bins which keep bodily fluids safely and hygienically contained. To read about managing these products, you can head to our recent nappy bin maintenance article and our guide to sanitary waste.
For more information regarding sharps containers in Australia or to order containers for your commercial restroom, speak with the Davidson Washroom team today on (02) 9648 3570.