Starbucks just announced that they are adding needle-disposal boxes to a number of their stores over safety concerns for employees.
If you frequent one of these select Starbucks locations, you may notice a new sharps box in the bathroom in the coming months. Come summertime, Starbucks reports that it will have installed these boxes in locations with a history of people improperly discarding needles.
This action is Starbucks’ response to a recent investigation by Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, in which the coffeehouse giant was ultimately fined $3,100. Employees in both Oregon and Washington say they were pricked by improperly discarded needles when they were cleaning the bathroom and emptying trash cans.
The new sharps boxes are meant to help keep Starbucks employees safe from this potential risk in the future.
Needlestick injuries can lead to blood-borne infections like HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We are always working and listening to our partners on ways we can better support them when it comes to issues like these,” Starbucks representative Reggie Borges told Business Insider.
As the opioid crisis continues across America, sharps-disposal boxes in public places are on the rise. In fact, some Starbucks locations in Seattle already have them, and some cities are installing them in places where needles are often found on the street.
However, not everyone is on board with the plan. Some customers of a Seattle restaurant with a sharps box complained that having the boxes in public bathrooms encourages people with addictions to use drugs in that location, though the restaurant defended the notion, saying the boxes protect employees and customers.
Experts agree with the restaurant owners. Julia Ritzler-Shelling, community health initiative and harm reduction services director at Trillium Health, says sharps-disposal boxes are not going to encourage drug use, but rather encourage improved safety measures that will benefit the community as a whole.
“What it’s going to do is give the community members, the person using the drugs, the employees, some sense of security that there is an appropriate place to put that syringe if someone is using in the bathroom,” Ritzler-Shelling told WHAM13.