Is Glass Considered Sharps Waste, Even If It’s Not Broken?

Don’t toss that glass in a red bag.  Your glass medical waste belongs in a sharps container. Here’s why.

One of the most talked about topics in medical waste removal and disposal is sharps waste. Sharps is actually the medical term for a sharp-pointed object that can cut or puncture the skin, and this includes needles, syringes, lancets, auto-injectors, and connection needles.  What many don’t realize is that glass falls into the category of sharps waste, and yes, that includes glass that is not broken. Why is glass considered sharps waste? It all has to do with how it’s contained and how it’s disposed of.

Glass Sharps Waste

First, let’s look at what types of glass is considered sharps waste. Glass sharps waste may contain disease-carrying blood or other potentially infectious materials on them, which means they are capable of ‘injecting’ that blood or fluid into anyone who comes in contact with them. This includes broken glass, vacutainer tubes made of glass, glass capillary tubes, and laboratory equipment made of glass, such as slides.  As you can see, sharps waste is not exclusive to needles or scalpels.

Why Glass Goes Into the Sharps Container

All glassware, broken or not, must be placed in an approved sharps container before being placed in the biohazard container.  The reason why is glass, broken or otherwise, may puncture red bags or other medical waste liners, and even the outer corrugated medical waste container. This could easily harm staff and medical waste haulers.  By placing all glassware in FDA approved sharps containers, you eliminate the risk of injury.

There are some basic principles of infection control when it comes to dealing with sharps, and it is imperative that administrators and managers:

  • Take action to stay healthy
  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids
  • Limit the spread of blood and body fluid contamination
  • Make objects safe for use

Implementing a sharps safety program is the best defense against sharps-related injury.

According to the FDA, sharps disposal guidelines state:

  • Used sharps can only be disposed of in a sharps container, including glass
  • Sharps containers may be purchased from supply companies, such as Red Bags
  • Sharps containers must be rigid, puncture-proof, and have lids that seal securely
  • The FDA also states that sharps containers must absolutely be discarded when reaching the fill line on the label, which is approximately ¾ full.  To avoid contamination and injury, containers should not be overfilled.

Red Bags offers an online OSHA Compliance Training program that covers everything facilities need to know to keep employees safe, including bloodborne pathogen standards and proper sharps disposal. An emphasis on employee safety helps you protect your well-trained and valuable team.

Want to learn more? Follow Red Bags’ blog to be up to date on the latest happenings in the medical waste industry.

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Glass Sharps Waste


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