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Health fears for 'needled' Sussex binmen
Two binmen face an anxious wait to discover whether they have contracted HIV or hepatitis after accidentally pricking themselves on needles.
The pair will undergo 24 weeks of medical and blood tests after residents in Bognor and Barnham dumped hypodermic needles in black binbags.
Biffa, the refuse company contracted by Arun District Council to collect waste in the area, yesterday (July 25) called on people to be more considerate and to take care when disposing of sharp items such as needles, broken glass and pottery.
Arun depot manager Laura Parker said: “Needle sticks are a very real danger to my staff.
“They wear gloves and ballistic nylon trousers but those won’t stop a needle stick.
“The workers now face a really worrying six months of medical tests – and all because someone carelessly put needles in their black bag.”
The two men were taken straight to hospital after the separate incidents.
At worst the injuries could transmit diseases such as potentially fatal hepatitis and HIV.
Biffa claims that there has been an increase in instances of needles, broken glass and knives being incorrectly disposed of in refuse bins.
Two other workers recently cut their hands when they picked up bin bags containing broken glass and pottery.
Ms Parker added that in such cases residents would be contacted.
She said binmen could choose not to collect rubbish from particular addresses in future if they felt it necessary.
A free needle collection service is provided by Arun District Council for residents wanting to get rid of hypodermic needles safely.
Biffa recommends that homeowners wanting to dispose of broken glass, pottery or knives wrap them in paper or cardboard first.
Paul Dendle, the council’s cabinet member for environmental services, said: “Needles or any other sharp objects in sacks are dangerous, and the council supports Biffa’s appeal to residents to please exercise care and good judgement.”