Starbucks has been adding safe-needle-disposal boxes to store bathrooms in select markets, the company confirmed Tuesday.
A Starbucks representative declined to confirm the number of markets that currently have safe needle deposit boxes and did not provide additional details on the initiative. The company reiterated a previously released statement that it has “protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm’s way.”
According to an April 23 report from Business Insider, Starbucks had installed the needle disposal boxes in 25 U.S. markets and plans to finish installing the sharps boxes in select markets, in response to requests from to district managers or store managers, by the end of summer 2019.
The addition of safe needle disposal comes three months after an online petition launched by Seattle-area Starbucks baristas signed by 5,000 people complained of unsafe working conditions. At the time, the Seattle-based coffee company told Nation’s Restaurant News that it was “looking at” multiple solutions after the online petition complained of three baristas in a Seattle-area Starbucks being poked by used hypodermic needles.
The safety complaints go back as far as fall 2018, when a barista told Seattle’s KIRO 7 News that the dangerous situation has escalated since Starbucks opened its bathrooms to everyone — including nonpaying customers — as part of its “Third Place” community policy, which was first implemented in May 2018.
Business Insider published a report on Tuesday based on a Freedom of Information Act request stating that the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated Starbucks safety policies after two baristas in Eugene, Oregon were stuck with used hypodermic needles. As a result of the investigation, Starbucks was fined with $3,100.
When reached for comment on the issue Tuesday, a Starbucks representative provided the same statement it has offered since the issue first was reported last fall:
“These societal issues affect us all and can sometimes place our partners in scary situations, which is why we have protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm’s way. If our partners are ever in a position where they don’t feel comfortable completing a task, they are empowered to remove themselves from the situation and alert their manager.”
As of the end of fiscal 2018, Seattle-based Starbucks had 29,324 stores worldwide.
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