NIOSH guidelines for sharps boxes

The following criteria for selection and use of sharps containers are recommended by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Functionality: Containers should remain functional during their entire usage. They should be durable, closable, leak resistant on their sides and bottoms, and puncture resistant until final disposal. A sufficient number of sharps disposal containers should be provided. Individual containers should have adequate volume and safe access to the disposal opening.

Accessibility: Containers should be accessible to workers who use, maintain, or dispose of sharp devices. Containers should be conveniently placed and (if necessary) portable within the workplace.

Visibility: Containers should be plainly visible to the workers who use them. Workers should be able to see the degree to which the container is full, proper warning labels, and color coding.

Accommodation: Container designs should be accommodating or convenient for the user and the facility, and they should be environmentally sound (e.g., free of heavy metals and composed of recycled materials). Accommodation also includes ease of storage and assembly and simplicity of operation.

Selection of a container or combination of containers should be based on a site-specific hazard analysis. Components of a site-specific hazard analysis should include the following:

• Assessment of workplace hazards (biological, physical, chemical, and radiological hazard containment needs)

• Assessment of size and type of sharps to be disposed of

• Assessment of the volume of sharps to be disposed of at each point of use

• Assessment of the frequency of sharps disposal container emptying and mounting bracket servicing by maintenance staff

• Compliance with federal, state, and local regulations

• Security requirements

• Container transport or mobility needs

• Clinician and procedural variability and movement

• Laboratory equipment variability and movement

• Environmental and disposal constraints

• Economic considerations

• Continued evaluation of medical device technology, including ongoing changes in equipment design and barrier materials

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers. Atlanta; January 1998.