Starbucks is installing needle-disposal boxes at coffee shops across the US, after employees voiced concerns about improperly discarded syringes in the bathrooms.
The coffee chain is said to have installed such boxes at locations in at least 25 US markets, with more boxes to come in all high-risk locations. Local managers are reportedly encouraged to submit requests to have needle disposal boxes installed in the bathrooms at their locations.
"We are always working and listening to our partners on ways we can better support them when it comes to issues like these," Business Insider cited Starbucks representative Reggie Borges as saying.
Over 5,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the company to install safe needle-disposal boxes so as to prevent patrons from getting pricked by a needle when disposing of used needles left in bathrooms or removing rubbish from bins.
An accidental needle stick could expose workers to a contagious disease such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis or any other infection common among drug users.
Starbucks became the target of at least one government investigation last year, Business Insider learned from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration through a Freedom of Information Act request.
It is reported that the investigation was launched after two employees at a Starbucks location in Eugene, Oregon received needle stick injuries within a month of each other.
The chain was fined $3,100, according to the documents.
A number of employees admitted that the problem has grown worse after Starbucks declared its bathrooms open to anyone, including customers who haven't made a purchase.
It comes amid a heavy opioid epidemic in the United States, with authorities saying that more than 130 people die from opioid drugs every day. Over 70,000 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2017, including illicit drugs and prescription opioids — a twofold increase in a decade, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Centre for Health Statistics.