Safer Sharps Handling and Disposal

Contact(s)

The goal of the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit (Health Unit) is to reduce the number of discarded sharps found in each of our communities to ensure that they are safe for work and play.

The following menus contain information for general community members, businesses, agencies, organizations and schools that wish to learn more about safe sharps handling and disposal in the Nipissing and/or Parry Sound districts. If you require additional information or have questions about sharps in the community, please contact Katharine O’Connell, Community Health Promoter at 1-800-563-2808 ext. 5322 or via email at harm.reduction@healthunit.ca.

What is a sharp?

A sharp is any object that has the ability to puncture or cut someone or something. Examples of sharps include: needles, syringes, lancets, scalpel or razor blades, glass pipes, and any other item(s) that may cut or puncture the skin, which may have also been contaminated by blood or bodily fluids.

Where in the community are sharps found?

Sharps should always be discarded in a hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid) and then dropped off at an appropriate disposal site (see section on ‘Sharps Disposal’ below). That being said, sharps are sometimes discarded in the community and may be found in parks, beaches, alleyways, sidewalks, garbage cans, recycling bins, public washrooms, and residences. Discarded sharps is a long-standing, community-wide issue. 

Sharps Handling and Pick-up


Why is sharps disposal important?

When sharps are discarded improperly in the community, such as in recycling, garbage, or even in a public place, it is often the result of not having a place to properly dispose of them. By providing a place for people to safely throw out their sharps, the community will be safer. Having a place to properly throw out sharps will help reduce the number of needle stick injuries and transmission of infectious diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Safe disposal helps to keep improperly discarded of sharps away from children, and the public as a whole.

What do I include in a safe sharps pick-up and disposal kit?

It is recommended that a safe sharps pick-up and disposal kit include the following items:

  • Puncture-proof and/or disposable gloves
  • Tongs, forceps or tweezers
  • Hard-sided puncture-proof container with a lid (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid)
  • Disinfectant wipes
  • Information on how to safely pick up and dispose of a sharp

 Putting together a safe sharps pick-up and disposal kit is inexpensive and easy to do.

How do I pick up and dispose of a sharp safely? 

Sharps kit

 

1. Gather and prepare equipment

Gather a hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with lid), puncture-proof or disposable gloves, and tongs. Place the container on flat, stable surface.

 

 


 

Pick up sharp2.  Pick up the sharp

Put on puncture-proof or disposable gloves, if available. Pick up sharps one at a time using tongs, if available. If you do not have tongs, pick up the sharp by its shaft/barrel (if it is a needle). Place sharp into the container with the sharp end pointing down.

Note:

  • Do not hold the container in your hand
  • Do not recap, bend or break needles
  • Do not insert fingers into the opening of the hard-sided puncture-proof container
  • Do not try to pick up more than one at a time
  • Keep your free hand out of the way when picking up a sharp  
Community bin


  

3.  Dispose of the sharp  

Secure the lid of the hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid). Place the container in a community sharps bin or bring it to a local needle syringe program or pharmacy (See section on Where can I Dispose of a Sharp?’ below).

 

 

4.  Wash hands and clean equipment

wash hands

Remove and dispose of gloves into the garbage. If puncture-proof gloves or tongs were used, wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe and allow to air dry. Wash your hands with soap and water.

For steps on how to handle a sharp safely, feel free to refer to one of the following videos: 

 

 

What other types of precautions should I take when handling sharps?

Additional, universal precautions and safety tips for handling sharps include:

  • Always assume that blood and body fluids are infectious
  • Get vaccinated against hepatitis B
  • Do not bend or recap used needles
  • Never reach into a hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid)
  • Dispose of hard-sided puncture-proof containers (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid) when the content reaches the full line
  • Cover cuts, rashes or broken skin
  • Wear gloves when handling possibly contaminated blood or bodily fluids
  • Do not eat or drink in a work area when handling or disposing of sharps
  • Report minor malfunctions of sharps

How should unopened sharps, including needles, found in public places be handled? What if unopened sharps are mixed with other used drug equipment and sharps? What do I do?

For the protection of anyone who is picking up used sharps, it is not recommended to sort through to pick out what is used and what is not. Since it may be difficult to determine which packages are opened, ripped or empty, it is suggested that opened and unopened sharps, such as needles, be placed in a hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid) to reduce risk of accidental injury.

Sharps Disposal


Where can I pick-up a hard-sided puncture-proof container? 

Sharps should be placed in a hard-sided puncture-proof container (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid), where possible, prior to disposal. Individuals can obtain hard-sided puncture-proof containers, such as a pop bottle or laundry container with a lid, for safe sharps disposal from their home.

The following pharmacies will provide free biohazard containers for individuals in the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. This includes distribution of biohazard containers to: general community members, people using needles for diagnosed health issues (e.g., diabetes), people using needles or drug equipment for substance use, and community agencies and businesses (e.g., warming centre, gas station, convenience store).

Nipissing District

Canadian Addictions Treatment Pharmacy

456 Ferguson Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 472-4222

Rexall #34 Pharmacy

1205 Fisher Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 476-2307

Harris Guardian Pharmacy

111 Main Street West

North Bay, ON

(705) 472-8280

Robinson’s Pharmasave

2547 Trout Lake Road

North Bay, ON

(705) 495-4515

North Bay Regional Pharmacy

50 College Drive

(705) 495-8117

 

Shoppers Drug Mart #1247

66 Josephine Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 497-8542

Northern Lights Remedy Rx

1-12006 Highway 17 East

Sturgeon Falls, ON

(705) 753-0202

Shoppers Drug Mart #664

267 Lakeshore Drive

North Bay, ON

(705) 476-3244

Parry Sound District

Ben’s Pharmacy

60 Bowes Street Unit 102

Parry Sound, ON

(705) 746-4811

 

 

Please check with each pharmacy about the number of biohazard containers that can be picked-up per visit.

Note: Other pharmacies in the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts may also offer free biohazard containers to individuals.

Where can I dispose of sharps safely in the community?

Sharps and hard-sided puncture-proof containers (e.g., biohazard container, pop bottle, laundry container with a lid) can be discarded at a number of places across the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. These include:

Needle Syringe Programs

One of the goals of harm reduction is to decrease the risks and burdens of infections and diseases caused by sharing or reusing drug use equipment. Sharing or reusing drug use equipment increases the risks of serious bacterial infections (i.e. skin or heart) and blood-borne infections (i.e. HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C). Needle syringe programs have been proven to reduce the spread of infection without increasing drug use. Needle Syringe Program sites provide safe drug use equipment and offer disposal of used needles and other biohazardous items (i.e. used glass pipes).

Below is a listing of publicly advertised needle syringe programs in the Health Unit region. 

Nipissing District

AIDS Committee of North Bay & Area

Suite 201 – 269 Main Street West

North Bay, ON

(705) 497-3560

Pharmasave Marshall Park Pharmacy

524 Lakeshore Drive

North Bay, ON

(705) 478-8079

North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

345 Oak Street West

North Bay, ON

(705) 474-1400

The Right Path Counselling and Prevention Services – Giyak Moseng

58 Semo Road

Sturgeon Falls, ON

(705) 753-3312

Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre

456 Ferguson Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 497-1620

West Nipissing General Hospital – The Alliance Centre

172 Ethel Street #3

Sturgeon Falls, ON

(705) 753-2271

Parry Sound District

Canadian Mental Health Association Muskoka- Parry Sound

26 James Street

Parry Sound, ON

(705) 746-4264

Henvey Inlet First Nation Health Centre

354A Pickerel River Rd
Pickerel, ON

705-857-1221

 

Canadian Mental Health Association Muskoka- Parry Sound

87 Main Street West

Sundridge, ON

(705) 384-5392

North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit

70 Joseph Street

Parry Sound, ON

(705) 746-5801

First Nations and Inuit Health Branch

74 James Street

Parry Sound, ON

(705) 746-5807

Ontario Addiction Treatment Centre

32 James Street

Parry Sound, ON

(705) 774-9669

Participating Pharmacies

The following pharmacies will provide free disposal of used sharps for individuals in the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. This includes returns by: general community members, people using needles for diagnosed health issues (e.g., diabetes), people using needles or drug equipment for substance use, and community agencies and businesses (e.g., warming centre, gas station, convenience store).

Nipissing District

Pharmacy

Maximum Quantity to Be Returned Per Visit

Type of Hard-Sided Container Returns Must Be In

Canadian Addictions Treatment Pharmacy

456 Ferguson Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 472-4222

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
 

Harris Guardian Pharmacy

111 Main Street West

North Bay, ON

(705) 472-8280

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
  • Other hard-sided container
 

Medical Pharmacy

133 Main Street West

North Bay, ON

(705) 472-8030

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
  • Other hard-sided container
 

North Bay Regional Pharmacy

50 College Drive

(705) 495-8117

  • No limit – Within reason
  • Biohazard container
 

Northern Lights Remedy Rx

1-12006 Highway 17 East

Sturgeon Falls, ON

(705) 753-0202

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
 

Mattawa IDA Pharmacy

300 Main Street

Mattawa, ON

(705) 744-5981

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
  • Other hard-sided container
 

Rexall #34 Pharmacy

1205 Fisher Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 476-2307

  • No limit – Within reason
  • Biohazard container
 

Robinson’s Pharmasave

2547 Trout Lake Road

North Bay, ON

(705) 495-4515

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
  • Other hard-sided container
 

Shoppers Drug Mart #1247

66 Josephine Street

North Bay, ON

(705) 497-8542

  • No limit – Within reason
  • Biohazard container
  • Other hard-sided container
 

Shoppers Drug Mart #664

267 Lakeshore Drive

North Bay, ON

(705) 476-3244

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
  • Other hard-sided container
 

 

Parry Sound District

Pharmacy

Maximum Quantity to Be Returned Per Visit

Type of Hard-Sided Container Returns Must Be In

Ben’s Pharmacy

60 Bowes Street Unit 102

Parry Sound, ON

(705) 746-4811

  • No limit
  • Biohazard container
 
Note: Other pharmacies in the Nipissing and Parry Sound district may also offer sharps disposal to individuals.

Hazardous Waste Depots

Some communities have hazardous waste depots that provide free disposal of used sharps for community members. Hazardous waste depots with this service include:

  • North Bay Hazardous Waste Depot

 112 Patton Street, North Bay

(705) 474-0400 ext. 2333

  • MacFarlane Street Transfer Station

57 MacFarlane Street, Parry Sound

(705) 746-2101

  • The MacFarlane Street Transfer station accepts household hazardous waste year round from residents in the following townships:
  • Archipelago
  • Seguin
  • McDougall
  • McKellar
  • Parry Sound
  • Carling
  • Whitestone
Note: Hazardous waste depots do not accept biohazardous waste from commercial businesses, institutes, industries or any other establishment that is not considered a “residential household.”

Community Sharps Bins 

Community sharps bin 

A community sharps bin is a large metal container that looks similar to a mailbox but is a specific colour, has a biohazard symbol on it and is labelled for sharps and needle disposal. A biohazard bin is placed inside the locked, tamper-proof and child-proof bin. When the bin is full and needs to be replaced, the inner biohazard bin is removed from the container and exchanged with an empty one.

Community sharps bins provide 24 hours, 7 days a week access to safe sharps disposal. Bins are operational all year round, and offer greater accessibility for sharps disposal. 

Community sharps bins located in Nipissing and Parry Sound districts include:

Nipissing District

North Bay

Community Counselling Centre

361 McIntyre Street East, North Bay, ON

McIntyre Street East and Fisher Street 

 

West Nipissing

Corner of Queen Street and Main Street

Sturgeon Falls, ON

 Corner of Queen Street and Main Street

 

Parry Sound District

Parry Sound

Corner of Seguin Street and Gibson Street (near the public washrooms)

Parry Sound, ON

Corner of Seguin Street and Gibson Street

 

For a map of community sharps bin locations across Ontario, check out the locator map on the Ontario Harm Reduction Distribution Program’s website.

The following items can go in a community sharps bin:

  • All types of needles and syringes
  • Glass pipes
  • Glass bowls
  • Other loose sharps
  • Hard-sided containers containing any sharps

Please do not put garbage in the community sharps bin. This includes other substance use paraphernalia not listed above (e.g., tourniquets and wrappers). Please throw these items into the garbage can located near the bin. 

Bathroom Wall-mounted Sharps Containers

Biohazard waste receptacles can be found at a wide variety of locations, agencies and businesses throughout the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. These biohazardous containers are often located in public washrooms and provide for safe disposal of single.

Where should sharps not be discarded?

Sharps should not be discarded in garbage or recycling bins. Do not flush sharps down the toilet, and keep sharps out of reach of children and pets.  

 

Reporting Sharps and/or Assistance

 

Who can I call if a sharp is found on public property?

If you find a sharp on public property, review and follow the steps for safe handling and disposing of a sharp safely. If you are not comfortable handling the sharp, please call your local public works department.

Who can I call if a sharp is found on private property?

If you find a sharp on private property, review and follow the steps for safe handling and disposing of a sharp safely. There is currently no phone number to call if a sharp is found on private property. It is the responsibility of private property owners (or landlords) to discard sharps found on private property.

Where can I report finding a sharp in the community?

If you find a sharp in the community you can enter the information on where the sharp was found, and discarded by using our online community sharps reporting tool. The information from the reporting system will be used to track where sharps are found and map “hot spots” in the community, to help guide future work related to addressing sharps in the community.

Sharps reported using the community sharps reporting tool will need to be picked-up and discarded by the individual who found the sharp, your local public works department or private property owners (or landlords) as noted in previous responses.

Injuries from Sharps

What types of risk are associated with discarded sharps in the community?

Contaminated sharps, including needles, can cause infectious fluid to make its way through the skin and into the body. This can happen when sharps are improperly handled or picked-up by community members including children, health care workers or anyone else. When sharps are handled in a safe manner, the risk of a needle stick injury is low. Needle stick injuries can also occur when individuals do not know that a sharp is present - this can include municipal workers who are not aware of sharps in garbage or recycling or children who do not see sharps buried in the dirt at a playground. Safe sharps disposal is important in trying to reduce accidental injury.

If a sharps injury, including a needle stick injury does occur, individuals could contract:

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis C
  • Other viruses

For detailed information on blood-borne or injury-related infections, please refer to the following fact sheets and/or information:

What factors influence disease transmission from a sharps injury?

The risk of infection from a sharps injury, including a needle stick injury, after exposure varies by pathogen as well as other factors. These include:

  • Depth of needle penetration, where applicable
  • Amount of blood or bodily fluid in the needle or on the sharp
  • Virus type and lifespan of the virus
  • When sharp or needle was used (including how long it has been in the environment)
  • Health status of person who used the sharp or needle
  • Immune status of individual who has received injury

The risk of infection from a sharps injury, including a needle stick injury, also varies by pathogen type (e.g., HIV, Hepatitis B) and the lifespan of the pathogen. Some of these agents can live on surfaces or objects for extended periods of time so it is important to use universal precautions.

Risk of infection from a sharps injury, including a needle stick injury, for common pathogens can be found below.

  • Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) (0.3%)
  • Hepatitis B (6-30%)
  • Hepatitis C (1.8%)

How do you address a sharps injury?

Sharps injuries, including needle stick injuries, are rare but when they do occur it is important to seek medical attention. First, determine if your agency has a workplace policy around this. If it does, follow all recommendations and information outlined in the policy for addressing sharps injuries. If your workplace does not have a policy for sharps injuries, including needle stick injuries, the following is recommended:

  • Allow the wound to bleed freely
  • Wash the injured area with soap and water
  • Report the incident to a supervisor
  • Determine the significance of exposure
    • If there is a significant risk exposure then seek medical attention immediately (e.g. Emergency Department)
    • If there is a low risk exposure (or if exposure occurred more than 72 hours ago), consult with a primary health care provider (e.g., walk-in clinic, family physician), preferably within one week of exposure
    • If there is no risk of exposure, medical follow-up is not required
  • Work with health professionals to determine if post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) or testing (i.e., HIV, hepatitis C) is recommended
  • Document the incident
 

Information for businesses and workplaces

 

My workplace or organization wants to purchase biohazard puncture-proof containers. Where do I order these from and how much do they cost?

Biohazard puncture-proof containers come in a wide range of sizes, styles and forms. Containers are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased from a number of distributers. For more information on where to purchase or pick-up biohazard puncture-proof containers please contact harm.reduction@healthunit.ca

My agency and/or business has sharps containers in their bathrooms. Where can I dispose of the biohazard containers once they are full?

For agencies that require regular sharps pick-up and disposal connect with your municipality or the Health Unit for information about local disposal options. Agencies and/or businesses may also connect with one of the following companies to set-up an account for regular disposal services.

Daniels Health

ECS Cares

Stericycle

For more information, click the following links:

North Bay

345 Oak Street West
705-474-1400

Parry Sound

70 Joseph Street Unit #302
705-746-5801

Burk's Falls

17 Copeland Street (by appointment only)
1-800-563-2808