In the following frequently asked questions we have tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions, but if you still require further information please feel free to contact us directly.
What does each colour represent?
Sharpsafe® sharps container lids are available in four colours:
Are these colours going to be the same for England/Wales/Scotland/Northern Ireland?
The Safe Management of Healthcare Waste (HTM-07-01) document has been adopted by the health services of England, Scotland and Wales. However, it is likely that further guidance may be issued relating to Scotland. This guidance has not been adopted by Northern Ireland.
Which size containers will this affect?
This guidance covers all clinical waste containers, including all sizes of sharps containers.
Will these containers comply with the new waste regulation?
Yes – the Sharpsafe® colour-coded range will continue to comply with all relevant regulations
Can I order through NHS Logistics?
NHS Logistics is now known as NHS Supply Chain since the organisation was outsourced to DHL. A full range of Sharpsafe® containers in each of the three colours is stocked by NHS Supply Chain.
Will the containers still comply with BS?
Yes BS EN ISO 23907:2012 is still the applicable standard for sharps containers and, whilst Safe Management of Healthcare Waste does not make reference to the standard, Frontier will ensure that all Sharpsafe® products continue to comply.
Why do we need a message printed on the lid?
Whilst lids and bases are packed in the same carton they occasionally get mixed up before they are assembled at point of use. Consequently, if both the labels on the bases and the lid are specific, there is a significant danger that they may be mismatched – e.g., the label says one thing about the contents and the colour of the lid implies another;
The message on the lid is designed to give users of the container a clearly visible indication of what should be placed in it – whilst labels are useful for reference, they are less immediately obvious for users in a busy healthcare environment.
The tick denotes it is acceptable to place specific waste into that colour container e.g. “Cyto Sharps” indicates it is ok to place cytotoxic or cytostatic contaminated sharps into this container.
In short, Frontier has tried to keep the colour-coding system as simple and failsafe as possible, given its unavoidable complexities.
Which colour should I use?
The guidance offers organisations a degree of flexibility and the colour or combination of colours adopted is likely to vary due to differing circumstances including capability to segregate at point of use, type of healthcare facility and waste disposal arrangements. Separate guidance has been produced to advise Sharpsafe® users as to the most appropriate colour combinations for their particular circumstances.
Do I need super-absorbent sachets in the container?
Not in the normal circumstances. So long as there are not significant quantities of free liquid in the container and the container is correctly assembled and closed, no leakage should occur. Sharpsafe® containers are specifically designed to retain liquids in normal use as a sharps container and whilst not being “leakproof” in the technical sense, they do offer greater levels of fluid retention than other products available in the UK.
Can I still order super-absorbent sachets?
These sachets can still be ordered directly from Frontier should they be required for particular circumstances.
How much liquid can I dispose of in these containers?
Sharpsafe® containers comply with BS EN ISO 23907:2012 which require them to retain liquids up to approximately 1% of their nominal capacity. In practice, it is considered that residual contents of syringes can continue to be disposed of in Sharpsafe® sharps containers.
Are these stock items?
Yes, these products are stocked by NHS Supply Chain, Welsh Health Supplies and National Procurement NHS Scotland. The products will also be available as stock items through independent distributors. A factory stock is maintained, available for immediate dispatch.
Will these colour changes apply to the 30 & 60 Litre clinical waste containers?
Yes, the guidance covers all clinical waste containers. However, in practice, it is likely that the majority of these containers will continue to have yellow lids.
Will the in-mould label change?
The in-mould labels on the Sharpsafe® range of sharps containers are unchanged and include:
Clear written and pictorial instructions on the use of the products
All necessary regulatory information
British Standard information and kitemark
UN classification (UN 3291) and code
This main benefit of one standard label is its simplicity and lack of opportunity for mismatch with different coloured lids.
Why do Sharpsafe® labels not include EWC codes?
European Waste Catalogue (EWC) codes are mandatory for all waste documentation – i.e., it is necessary for the documentation which accompanies the consignment of waste containers to state what the waste is, including its classification per the EWC. Contaminated sharps could fit into any one of approximately 10 EWC codes dependent on particular circumstances.
If the container label includes the EWC code, then there is a likelihood either that the code will be wrong or that a substantially greater number of containers will be required. Frontier has taken the view that by not including EWC codes on the label provides far greater flexibility for users whilst the accompanying documentation provides the necessary regulatory compliance.