Safe Sharps Disposal

Sharps waste disposal

Sharps, such as needles and syringes, are commonly used in healthcare settings or for personal use at home. However, improper disposal of these items can threaten public health and safety.

In this blog, we will cover all the aspects of safe sharps disposal for businesses, home injections, and healthcare. We will also discuss the different types of sharps and the risks involved in incorrect disposal.

Keep reading to learn best practices for safe sharps disposal, including tips on preventing and handling sharps injuries. You'll also learn about approved disposal techniques for different types of sharps and regulatory compliance around safe sharps disposal at home and work.

Lastly, we will share some useful resources and tools for proper sharps disposal to ensure you have everything you need to dispose of your sharps safely.

Why is safe sharps disposal critical for businesses, home injections, and healthcare?

Safety is key when using and disposing of sharps for businesses, home injections, and healthcare. Keeping safe practices in focus helps:

  • minimise the risk of sharps injuries
  • protect individuals and the environment
  • promote a culture of safety and hygiene
  • compliance with legal requirements
  • reduce the burden on healthcare organisations

Understanding the different types of sharps and risks involved

Sharps, such as needles, syringes, and lancets, pose potential health risks if not disposed of properly.

Let’s look at the different types of sharps and the risks involved with improper disposal.

What are sharps?

Sharps are objects that can puncture or cut the skin. These include:

  • needles,
  • syringes,
  • lancets, used alongside blood-testing devices,
  • clippers, and
  • scalpels.

Why is the correct disposal of sharps important?

Correct sharps disposal is crucial to preventing injuries and the transmission of diseases. Sharps may carry bloodborne diseases, like HIV and Hepatitis B and C. Incorrectly disposed sharps at work pose a high risk to cleaning, maintenance, facility staff, and the general public. At home, unsafe sharps disposal can harm anyone close by, including children and pets.

Best practices in safe sharps disposal for businesses, home injections, and healthcare

Proper sharps disposal is crucial for public health and safety.

Training employees on sharps waste management and providing designated containers is important for businesses and healthcare workers. Individuals who use sharps at home, such as diabetes patients, should explore safe disposal options. Dedicated sharps disposal is often available at a pharmacy. The NHS and other healthcare providers often guide sharps users through safe disposal services.

Healthcare facilities and businesses must adhere to regulations and guidelines when disposing of hazardous waste. The Health and Safety Executive has produced an information sheet for employers and employees to help comply with the Health and Safety (Sharp Instruments in Healthcare) Regulations 2013.

How to prevent sharps injuries

To prevent sharps injuries, always follow the following guidance.

  • Always use a designated sharps container to safely dispose of needles, syringes, and other sharp medical objects.
  • Never dispose of sharps in a waste or recycling bin to prevent injuries.
  • Keep sharps containers out of reach of children and pets to ensure their safety.
  • Familiarise yourself with local laws and regulations regarding sharps disposal and consider utilising mail-back programs or community drop-off locations for proper and secure disposal.

Steps to take if you get an accidental sharps injury

If you have an accidental sharps injury, acting quickly and taking the necessary precautions is essential.

  1. First, stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the wound using a clean cloth or bandage.
  2. Thoroughly clean the wound with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection. If the injury is deep, bleeding heavily, or has a high infection risk, seek immediate medical attention.
  3. Dispose of the sharps that caused the injury in a sharps container, following local regulations and guidelines.
  4. If the sharps incident happens at work, always report accidents and near-misses to your line manager to protect co-workers from future injuries and promote a safe working culture with sharps.

Methods for disposing of sharps and syringes

When it comes to sharps disposal, it is crucial to follow correct methods and techniques. One of the most important steps is using a sharps container to safely dispose of needles, syringes, and other sharp instruments. A sharps container is puncture-resistant and should be labelled "Sharps".

If you cannot access a specialised sharps bin or sharps bin disposal, avoid using a general rubbish bin or recycling bin. Some sharps manufacturers offer a mail-back program. Or you can find a designated sharps disposal location for safe disposal. Your local government website should provide an up-to-date list of these facilities or you can ask your pharmacist for advice.

What goes in a sharps bin | Safe sharps disposal infographic

Download a printable copy of the above for your own health and safety display here.

Approved disposal techniques for different types of sharps

When disposing of different sharps, follow approved techniques to ensure safety.

When disposing of syringes, needles and scalpels, use a sharps container with a tight-fitting lid labelled with biohazard warning symbols. The same guidelines apply to lancets and blood glucose monitoring devices.

There is different guidance for razors and blades, as these are not designed to puncture the skin. Wrap razors and blades in a puncture-resistant container before disposing them for general waste collection or recycling centres. When it comes to sharp glass or plastic tubes, wrap them in paper or use a puncture-resistant container before disposal.

Legal obligations to ensure safe sharps disposal at home and work

Individuals have a duty of care to safely dispose of sharps in their homes, while employers must provide proper disposal options in the workplace. Professionals using sharps in healthcare facilities and in people's own homes also have legal obligations to ensure safe sharps disposal.

Sharps disposal bins must meet regulatory standards. They should have secure lids to prevent injuries and look for leak-proof options for safe handling and transport. Additionally, consider containers that are easily accessible for convenient disposal and have clear labelling for easy identification. These measures ensure the safe disposal of sharps in both home and workplace settings.

Resources and tools for safe sharps disposal

We have rounded up some resources and tools for dealing with sharps. The information is mainly for those working in the healthcare industry. However, anyone dealing with sharps disposal will benefit from raising their awareness.


Safe sharps disposal is critical for businesses, home injections, and healthcare settings. It protects individuals from injuries and the risk of infection and ensures the safety of the environment and community.

You can significantly reduce the risk by following best practices and knowing the steps to take in case of accidental injury. Compliance with regulatory requirements and using approved disposal techniques and containers enhance safety measures.

Further Reading

Sharps FAQ

Sharps FAQ

Sharps Awareness

The most asked questions about sharps answered!

Sharps Safety in Healthcare

Sharps Safety in Healthcare

Sharps Awareness

Don't let sharps safety become an issue in your workplace. Find out vital information on sharps safety awareness in healthcare.

Sharps Injury Risks and Prevention

Sharps Injury Risks and Prevention

Sharps Awareness

A sharps injury can be traumatising and dangerous. Learn how to prevent injury and what to do if the worst happens in this informative article.

Bethany Wesson

Bethany Wesson

Bethany is a freelance content writer and has produced articles for the Commodious Knowledge Bank since 2023. She has written about various health and safety topics, from asbestos to mindful business practices.

  • Health and Safety
  • Sharps
  • Healthcare
  • Business