All You Need to Know About a Sharps Kit
Sharps disposal kits are a key element of community safety when it comes to disposal of sharps materials, often used for medical/clinical purposes.
Read on to properly find out how to use and dispose of a sharps kit.
What is a sharps kit?
Short answer: a sharps kit allows for removal and disposal of dangerous/sharp or pointed objects (referred to as sharps).
- They are essential to medical and clinical waste disposal; preventing cross contamination and injury when removing these objects.
- Sharps are placed into special sharps disposal containers, which are disposed of using a disposal service/a community disposal bin.
- Sharps disposal facilities are available at a variety of locations across the country for community use. See our list below, alongside a guide to the best sharps kits!
Components of a Sharps Kit
A sharps kit is a collection/assortment of items that are designed specifically for the purpose of handling and disposing of sharps.
The kit serves to ensure safety while removing these difficult to handle items, particularly by reducing contamination and injury risk.
We dive into a breakdown of the basic components of a sharps kit below, but firstly - what exactly are sharps?
Which items are classified as ‘sharps’?
A sharps kit (or sharps disposal kit) serves an important purpose in the handling and disposal of items referred to as ‘sharps’.
Sharps are essentially pointy, spiky or needle-tipped items, often posing a risk of injury as a result.
Such items are regularly used in a variety of industries and contexts - one of the most commonly applicable being medical and clinical settings, for instance.
- Common examples of items that classify as sharps include needles and syringes (such as for insulin administration to a diabetic).
- Laboratory and chemical/hazard environments are also popular settings.
Contents of a sharps kit
A typical sharps kit will generally contain the below items (approximately).
A proper kit must include all such essentials relevant to handling and disposing of sharps safely.
- Sharps disposal container
- Antiseptic swab (typically cetrimide, alcohol or chlorhexidine)
- Disposable forcep/claw pickup tool
- Disposable nitrile gloves
- Biohazard/waste disposal bag with seal
Ideally should also include (may not be present in all kits/smaller ones):
- Gauze swabs (approx 3)
- Fabric bandage strips
- Plastic bandage strips
Components of a Sharps Kit
Below we provide a breakdown on the functions of each component contained in your sharps kit.
- Gauze swabs (approx 3)
- Antiseptic swabs
- Disposable claw pickup tool
- Disposable nitrile gloves
- Biohazard sealable waste disposal bag
Your sharps disposal container will be an Australian Standards approved, specially designed container to place your sharps into prior to disposal.
If a needle stick injury has occurred, antiseptic wipes and other basic first aid supplies (such as the bandages and gauze swabs) are necessary to have on hand.
They can be used for hand disinfection post disposal.
Antiseptic swabs serve to disinfect and sterilise the needed area, preventing infection and contamination.
These containers are sealable, rigid-walled, resistant to punctures and sturdy.
This ensures that sharps are protected as opposed to exposed inside the bins.
These forceps pickup tools are specifically designed to allow for easy pickup (think like a claw) and removal of the sharps objects.
You will use it to pick up the sharps item and place it into the container.
This is far safer than improper handling - such as with your hands, and minimises contact with the object entirely.
Disposable gloves are essential while handling and disposing of the sharps, preventing cross contamination and infection risk.
Wear the gloves throughout the entire process of disposal.
These bags are quality designed with a seal, especially made for biohazard and clinical waste disposal.
They allow you to carefully and properly seal and dispose of the sharps once they are ready to be removed.
Recommended Brands of Sharps Kits
Sharps disposal kits are available at many medical, first aid and safety equipment stores.
Below, we have narrowed down 3 of the most reputable and widely accessible brands.
Note: that you can purchase sharps disposal containers as a stand-alone item from these retailers and many others.
- First Aiders Choice Sharps Clean-Up Kit
- FastAid Biohazard Sharps Kit
- Regulator Sharps Disposal Kit by Aero
- Spill Station Sharps Disposal Kit
The First Aiders Choice Kit by Trafalgar First Aid is one of the most reputable and widely available sharps kit options.
Stocked at a variety of retailers, it contains everything you will need for safe and successful sharps disposal.
The kit comes in an easily identifiable coloured case.
This FastAid Kit is a classic sharps disposal kit, with all necessities included.
It is available as either a single use kit (a good complement to a first aid kit) or a multi-use 5 pack kit that can be wall mounted as an added bonus (great for a workplace!)
This may be a good option if you’re after a multi vs single use kit.
Find it here.
The Regulator Kit by Aero is another example of a fully equipped and quality kit.
The kit is TGA approved and trusted, containing both your sharps disposal supplies and wound strips + gauze.
This great all-in-one kit can be located here at NSW First Aid, but is very widely available.
Methods of Disposal of Sharps Kits
It is essential that sharps are properly handled and disposed of, in order to prevent injury and risk hazardous exposure to others.
Importantly, contamination (such as blood contamination/disease transmission due to pricks) may occur.
Sharps are considered high risk - and handled with great regard and responsibility for this reason.
How are sharps collected and disposed of?
Businesses, zones and workplaces are required by law to properly handle these items - namely by collection and subsequent disposal.
You must never place sharps into regular recycling or rubbish bins.
This presents an infection and injury risk.
Instead, sharps may only be placed into designated sharps disposal containers.
Such sharps containers are approved to Australian Standards (AS: 4031, AS: 4261).
If you are a workplace, business or company:
- Policies and procedures are required to be implemented for the collection and disposal of sharps items.
- Note: sharps containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- There are a variety of disposal avenues available. Here you can locate sharps disposal bins.
All staff should be adequately briefed on these rules.
Larger businesses will require larger disposable containers, as opposed to individual ones.
Your company will need to sort out an avenue for approved collection after the items have been properly disposed of using a sharps bin.
Individuals also have access to these bins, which are dispersed throughout the community.
Some primary disposal avenues include:
- Public sharps disposal bins
- Public hospital disposal services
- Pharmacy community disposal bins (select pharmacies)
- Community health centres
- Authorised NSP outlets (Needle and Syringe Program)
- Further avenues (should you get stuck)
Public disposal bins are distributed in a variety of areas - both government and community/business related.
This commonly includes public toilet disposal bins, usually located in the toilet/restroom area.
You can find them everywhere from hospitality and recreational areas to large retail buildings and other common premises.
Public hospitals in a variety of locations and health districts throughout Australia offer sharps disposal services.
This is available to the general community.
Many pharmacies also provide sharps disposal bins directly on their premises, provided by the council.
This is of course an excellent location choice, particularly for those who are purchasing or returning injectables for medical purposes to the pharmacy.
Community health centres also offer sharps disposal avenues.
Consider checking your local district.
There are bins for sharps disposal available via the NSP.
Both clients and non-clients are permitted to use these bins for community sharps disposal (though note only clients are provided with replacement containers)
Diabetes Australia and the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (1300 131 340) can also be contacted to obtain further specifics regarding your closest sharps disposal bin.
Are there laws governing sharps disposal?
Sharps disposal must be performed legally, and there are stringent and careful government laws in place to ensure public safety.
If you are a business, visit the Worksafe website alongside your local government health website to view the laws dictating sharps disposal.
Both businesses and individuals are required to always use approved disposal containers.
How often should sharps disposal bins be emptied?
The answer depends on sizing, however bins should be regularly emptied weekly, fortnightly, or monthly to prevent overflow and jamming blockages.
Adjust as needed after observing if bins are empty or full upon collection.
Sharps play an important medical role - particularly when it comes to injectable medicines and certain disease prevention.
Proper handling and disposal is paramount to prevent contamination and ensure the safety of both yourself and the community.