Nipawin calling for province-wide used needle disposal protocols

NIPAWIN — The mayor of Nipawin is lobbying the province to develop Saskatchewn-wide protocols to address the disposal of used needles.

The call comes after two incidents: one where a waste disposal employee was poked by a needle while lifting a garbage bag on the job and another on June 10 where a dozen used needles plus tubing were found improperly placed in a recycling bin.

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Barry Elliott, Nipawin’s administrator, said used needles have been an issue in the town.

“They’ve been found in garbage, they’ve been found in public places on the ground, that sort of thing,” Elliott said. “They’ve been found in the recycling containers and they are a serious problem, so we’re doing what we can to develop a protocol.”

He said the town is doing what they can on their end to try to come up with a better solution.

“It’s in the early stages of discussion with the province on developing a provincial protocol or strategy or method, if you will, of safely disposing of the sharps,” Elliott said.

“We’re not happy with the fact that there is no provincial protocol in place, so we’re trying to encourage that to be developed.”

Rick Gaertner, store manager of Davis Rexall Drugs Ltd. in Nipawin said they have a current protocol in place for taking them. He said this has changed throughout the years.

“What we’re recommending is that people bring their sealed sharps container to their drug store, basically, so we can then dispose of it,” Gaertner said. “We have contracted a biomedical waste disposal company and they come and pick these things up.”

He recommends people get a sharps container designed for the specific use. A sharps container can be purchased at any pharmacy.

“But we will accept things that are like hard sided containers that are sealed. We don’t like people putting them in, say, a margarine container and putting a lid on it and then the needles poke through the sides.”

Gaertner said the only questions he can imagine the individual may receive would be around the storage of the sharps themselves – if they were stored in a way that puts the handlers at risk.

“We’ll still accept sharps containers from anyone who brings them in so long as it’s a reasonable container.”

Elliott said the town wants to continue to encourage the community to be diligent and careful in the disposal of sharps.

“We want to inform people to do what they can to be responsible with their sharps. The town will continue to advocate for that,” Elliott said.

“When we do find sharps we will call our fire department to go and retrieve them, because they can do so safely.”

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