Starbucks is installing needle-disposal boxes in bathrooms at its locations in dozens of U.S. markets, due to employee concerns about sharps injuries from hypodermic needles left by drug-using customers.
According to Business Insider, two employees of the giant coffee chain were stuck with hypodermic needles in 2018 at a store in Eugene, Oregon. OSHA investigated and fined Starbucks $3,100, for not providing containers for sharps in or near bathrooms where contaminated sharps were commonly found and not making the hepatitis B vaccine available to all workers who might be exposed to the disease through needle pricks, among other violations.
The company subsequently took action at that location but that was not sufficient for the companies’ employees, many of whom reported finding blood and needles that potentially exposed them to infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis. Thousands signed a petition demanding needle-disposal boxes in high-risk bathrooms. The company subsequently began to place the items in its bathrooms, near where sharps items had been found.
Starbucks reportedly updated its training for employees, which includes safely disposing of garbage which may contain hypodermic needles and what to do in case of a needle-prick injury.
Sharps boxes are not the only way that Starbucks has sought to address unsafe needle disposal in stores.
In January, Business Insider reported that the chain was also testing using heavier-duty trash bags to prevent needle pokes and removing trash cans from certain bathrooms. One Twitter user reported that a Philadelphia Starbucks put blue light bulbs in its bathrooms in an effort to make it harder for people to see veins and inject drugs.