Starbucks has installed needle-disposal boxes in its bathrooms in at least 25 U.S. markets over the past few months, reports Business Insider. The international coffee chain has further plans to install the boxes in more franchises across the country this summer, though exact locations were not specified.
The change is in response to employee complaints that used needles are often discarded in bathrooms, leaving workers at risk of getting poked and potentially exposed to HIV and hepatitis.
Two workers at the same store in Eugene, Ore., were poked by hypodermic needles last year, prompting a state investigation by Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Starbucks was penalized $3,100, including $700 for not providing sharps containers in or near bathrooms. The chain was also fined for not providing the hepatitis B vaccine to workers potentially exposed to the virus through needle pricks. Some employees took antiviral medications to protect themselves, reports Business Insider.
An online petition urging Starbucks to install needle-disposal boxes in all locations now has more than 5,000 employee signatures.
“It is a scary situation to see because we don’t have needle-proof gloves and the only protection we have against any sharp objects is ‘double bagging’ a trash can with two bags instead of one, which is a ridiculous thing to actually think two plastic bags can stop a sharp needle,” a Nashville Starbucks employee said to Business Insider.