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Starbucks Is Adding Needle-Disposal Boxes to Its Bathrooms

Grub Street logo Grub Street 4/23/2019 Chris Crowley
a store front at night: A Starbucks store is seen March 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Starbucks customers can now add discussion about racism to their latte order. In an initiative that has raised some eyebrows, the head of the US coffee shop chain has called on baristas in the United States to discuss the sensitive issue with customers. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz launched the "Race Together" program, saying the United States needs a "new level of sensitivity, understanding around these issues." The announcement prompted a surge of comment online March 17, with some people questioning whether an expensive coffee shop is the best place to start a discussion about race.    AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER        (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images) © Karen Bleier A Starbucks store is seen March 18, 2015 in Washington, DC. Starbucks customers can now add discussion about racism to their latte order. In an initiative that has raised some eyebrows, the head of the US coffee shop chain has called on baristas in the United States to discuss the sensitive issue with customers. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz launched the "Race Together" program, saying the United States needs a "new level of sensitivity, understanding around these issues." The announcement prompted a surge of comment online March 17, with some people questioning whether an expensive coffee shop is the best place to start a discussion about race. AFP PHOTO / KAREN BLEIER (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

In response to safety concerns from employees, Starbucks has outfitted bathrooms at some locations with needle-disposal boxes. Last year, the chain was investigated by and fined $3,100 by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration after two employees in Eugene were stuck with needles. Needle-disposal boxes have been added to locations in at least 25 domestic markets, Business Insider reports, and the chain intends to have such boxes added to bathrooms anywhere considered necessary. The needle-disposal boxes are needed because trash bags are not safe for disposing sharp objects, and so employees and staff risk being pricked. If they are, they have to take medications to protect themselves against HIV and other viruses.

The needle-disposal boxes have been called for by 5,000 employees who have signed an online petition asking that these boxes be installed to protect both employees and customers. Business Insider spoke with Starbucks employees who expressed support for the move, with one Seattle worker telling the website that “the biggest and boldest move that Starbucks leaders can do right now” is to face the potential negative response and install needle-disposal boxes nationally. Some employees say the issue became worse after Starbucks started its open-bathroom policy last May, though not all agreed with this assessment.

Related video: Starbucks Hits Nespresso Machines This May [provided by Food & Wine]

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