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Estimates suggest nearly 7.8 billion injections occur outside of healthcare facilities each year, with the number of used needles disposed of in household garbage tripling from 2001 to 2011. When disposed of improperly, needles present a potential injury risk to waste industry workers, especially in MRFs where sorting recyclables can put employees in contact with sharps and, as a result, blood borne pathogens.  Currently, data regarding the rate and extent of these injuries is limited.

Key objectives of this report include:

  1. Summarize current policy and practices pertaining to the safe disposal of home-health needles and other sharps.
  2. Inventory needlestick incidences at MRFs to estimate needlestick injury rates in the U.S. and Canada.
  3. Quantify the relative importance of needlesticks relative to other risks within the waste industry.
  4. Document current practices and activities that may be related to increased or decreased needlestick injuries.

For additional background information on this project, please click here.