BY JENNIFER SULLIVAN
SEATTLE (CIRCA via KOMO) — Two years after an investigation by the Washington Department of Labor & Industries, Starbucks has announced that it will put needle disposal containers in café restrooms.
In January 2017, the state fined the Seattle-based coffee giant $31,000 after employees at six stores reported being jabbed. Starbucks was fined for not making the Hepatitis B vaccine available The company was also cited for inadequate training.
“Starbucks has not ensured that regulated waste, such as contaminated hypodermic syringes, are handled properly and safely,” the Labor & Industries report said.
On Thursday, Starbucks said in a statement:
“These societal issues affect us all and can sometimes place our partners (employees) in scary situations, which is why we have protocols and resources in place to ensure our partners are out of harm’s way. I can’t emphasize enough that 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 we always do, we are constantly evaluating our processes and listening to partner feedback of ways we can be better.”
As of Thursday, more than 3,700 people signed a petition on the site Coworker.org petitioning Starbucks to place sharps containers in “high-risk bathrooms.”
One Starbucks barista, who declined to have her name published out of fear for her employment, said she was jabbed with a needle last year. She has lobbied her bosses and the company to get medical waste containers.
“Honestly, safe sharps disposals in the bathrooms because that’s going to protect us that’s not going to fix the problem overall, but it’s going to protect the employees and the customers,” she said.
The barista said several of her colleagues had also been jabbed.
“It’s a coffee shop. It’s not a coffee shop's problem to solve the drug problem, it’s to protect the employees."