The Starbucks chain of coffee houses is set to begin installing needle-disposal boxes in store bathrooms for drug-addicted customers to safely throw away used needles, according to reports.
The company says the disposal boxes are an effort to deal with the opioid crisis across the country and reports that it has already started installing them in locations in 25 U.S. cities. Starbucks also claims that by Summer, every Starbucks in the nation will feature the devices, Business Insider reported.
“We are always working and listening to our partners on ways we can better support them when it comes to issues like these,” a Starbucks representative told Business Insider.
The move comes on the tail of a petition by employees who are worried about contracting a disease from cleaning up discarded needles or being pricked by needles thrown in garbage bags.
Starbucks also faced a government investigation in Eugene, Oregon, over the amount of discarded drug paraphernalia at its locations there. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration, employees were being stuck by needles thrown in toilets, in garbage cans, and on floors. OSHA was called in to force the company to try and do something to safeguard employees’ health.
The investigation resulted in a $3,100 fine to Starbucks for not having a needle-disposal box in the bathroom.
Accidental needle pricks leave employees open to contracting hepatitis or even HIV and AIDS, along with other virulent and dangerous blood-borne diseases and viruses.
Starbucks already instituted a training regime to teach employees how to deal with discarded needles and the dangers the refuse presents to workers.
“These societal issues affect us all and can sometimes place our [employees] in scary situations, which is why we have protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm’s way,” Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges said of the boxes being installed across the nation.
Starbucks employees have praised the company’s move to make the disposal boxes universal to all locations.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.