Raleigh, NC reported an estimated 781 to 1,484 needlestick-related injuries-a rate of 2.7 per 100 workers-occur annually at solid waste and recycling material recovery facilities.
Researchers surveyed the owners of material recovery facilities in North America about needlestick incidents, which can expose workers to bloodborne pathogens. Based on the 35 responses received, the researchers determined that 53 percent of the facilities see syringe needles daily or a few times a week, and more than half find needles mixed in with plastics.
Workers on the picking line experienced the highest rate of needlestick-related incidents because of their direct contact with waste material. The researchers also found that needlestick-related injuries may account for 45 percent of all injuries at material recovery facilities.
Using feedback from the owners, the researchers recommend several needlestick safety tips for employers:
- Use personal protective equipment.
- Evaluate operations and equipment.
- Promote community education on safe disposal methods.