Needlestick injuries are a serious risk to waste industry workers, especially in MRFs where sorting recyclables on picking lines and similar activities can put employees in contact with sharps and, as a result, blood borne pathogens. Historically, exposure to these materials and the rate of incidences associated with them at MRFs has not been well documented, though it has been suggested anecdotally in the industry that the rate has increased in recent years.
The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) and the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) conducted a joint research project to determine and address the issue of needlestick injuries at Material Recovery Facilities (MRFs) in the United States and Canada.
An understanding of exposure and injuries related to needles, syringes and related materials can:
Educate owners, operators, supervisors, employees and/or contract workers of risk.
Develop mitigation policies and best management practices based on actual industry data.
The objectives of this report are:
Summarize current policy and practices pertaining to the safe disposal of home-health needles and other sharps.
Inventory needlstick incidences at MRFs to estimate total needlestick injuries and estimate incidence rates for MRF workers in the U.S. and Canada.
Quantify the relative importance of needlesticks with respect to other risks within the waste industry.
Document current practices and activities that may be related to increased or decreased needlesticks.