Sharps Handling and Disposal
At the University of Idaho, a "sharp" is defined as any object which could readily puncture or cut the skin of an individual, including, but not limited to:
- Needles, syringes, knives, razor blades, lancets, capillary tubes, metal shavings, etc.
- Glass or plastic pipettes and pipette tips
- Any broken glass, glass slides, cover slips, plastic, metal, pottery with sharp edges, etc.
- Anything that could puncture through a garbage bag causing the bag to rupture and spill, or risking injury and exposure to personnel.
Although they are technically not “sharps,” disposable pipettes, tips and other pointed disposable objects can perforate the plastic liner of a waste can and pose an unknown threat, especially if they are contaminated with laboratory chemicals or other materials. For this reason, these items are treated as sharps for the safety of all personnel.
The Sharps and Pipette Tips Disposal guidance document covers hazard categories of sharps as well as how to collect and dispose of the different categories. EHS can provide appropriate collection containers as described in this document for non-hazardous plastic or metal sharps and sharps contaminated with hazardous chemicals. Biohazard sharps containers must be purchased by the lab. Using these best practices when conducting research using sharps or pipette tips reduces the risk of hazardous exposures. Additionally, EHS is providing a sharps disposal flow chart to serve as a visual guide for the collection and disposal of these items.