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Under siege by drug users, Starbucks considers needle-disposal boxes in restrooms

A Starbucks Coffee shop in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
A Starbucks Coffee shop in Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) The Associated Press file

Starbucks may install needle-disposal boxes in some restrooms where employees say they fear getting poked by used drug syringes while cleaning up, Business Insider reported.

The decision follows a petition on CoWorker.org with more than 3,700 signatures from employees and others asking for the change.

“Employees risk getting poked, and DO get poked, even when following ‘protocol’ of using gloves and tongs to dispose of used needles left in bathrooms, tampon disposal boxes, and diaper changing stations,” the petition says. “Making coffee should not come with this kind of easily detoured risk.”

In comments, petitioners wrote they fear being infected with hepatitis or other ailments if they are poked by stray needles. Others recounted finding needles discarded on restroom floors or even in the dining areas of some Starbucks.

The chain is considering installing locked sharps-disposal boxes, using stronger trash bags or removing trash cans entirely from problematic restrooms, Business Insider reported.

“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,” said spokesperson Reggie Borges, according to the publication.

Starbucks trains employees to safely deal with discarded needles and encourages them to inform managers if they feel unsafe, USA Today reported.

The coffee chain opened its restrooms to the public in May 2018 after two black men were arrested after being told to leave a Starbucks when they asked to use the restroom without making a purchase, according to the publication.

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