Sharps Container

Q: One of our doctors wants me to mount a large sharps container just inside the wall. It won’t hinder the door, but I’m wondering if there are any safety issues regarding how high or low the sharps container can be mounted.

A: Inside the wall? If I understand you correctly, you will be cutting open the wall to insert the container inside the wall?

If so, you need to confirm that the wall is not a rated wall of any type. There are multiple different ratings for walls in a hospital, such as: 2-hour fire-rated, 1-hour fire-rated, smoke barrier, and smoke partition. These walls cannot be breeched to insert a sharps container.

Once installed, the sharps container cannot project more than 4-inches into the corridor. This applies if the container is surface mounted or mounted inside the wall.

As far as height of the container is concerned, the Life Safety Code does not address this issue, but there are likely other standards that may apply, such as CDC standards, AAMI standards, AORN standards, FGI Guidelines, etc. Please check with your state and local authorities before making any decisions on mounting these containers.

UPDATE: I was informed by a reader that the gold standard for placement and handling of sharps containers (including height and reasoning for determination) is NIOSH document 97-111 Selecting, Evaluating, and Using Sharps Disposal Containers.

Thank you….

Brad Keyes
Brad Keyes, CHSP

Brad is a former advisor to Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP) and former Joint Commission LS surveyor. He guides clients through  organizational assessment; management training; ongoing coaching of task groups; and extensive one-on-one coaching of facility leaders. He analyzes and develops leadership effectiveness and efficiency in work processes, focusing on assessing an organization’s preparedness for a survey, evaluating processes in achieving preparedness, and guiding organizations toward compliance. 

As a presenter at national seminars, regional conferences, and audio conferences, Brad teaches the Keyes Life Safety Boot Camp series to various groups and organizations. He is the author or co-author of many HCPro books, including the best-selling  Analyzing the Hospital Life Safety Survey, now in its 3rd edition. Brad has also authored a variety of articles in numerous publications addressing features of life safety and fire protection, as well as white papers and articles on the Building Maintenance Program. Currently serving as the contributing editor of the monthly HCPro newsletter Healthcare Life Safety Compliance  gives Brad further insight into the industry’s trends and best practices.