Most of us go to Starbucks for yummy cake pops and coffee drinks with way too much sugar—and clean bathrooms are just a plus. But at some stores, the bathrooms have become dangerous for employees, which means the coffee chain has had to make a bit of an update to the way things are done.
According to Business Insider, Starbucks has started installing needle disposal boxes in restrooms in certain cities because a rising number of customers are leaving their hypodermic needles behind. Unfortunately, this has become a real problem for Starbucks employees, who have found blood and needles in their bathrooms while cleaning up.
A petition on coworker.org that was signed by more than 3,700 people implored Starbucks to install sharps boxes so that people who use needles in the bathroom will have a safe place to put them. Some employees have said that they’ve had to undergo expensive medical procedures after coming into contact with the needles, and that they’ve lived in fear of contracting HIV or other viruses.
“I’m a store manager and though I agree that it may not be ‘aesthetically pleasing’ to the customer’s eye, I worry about my team’s safety and my own when changing trash out in my store,” Katrina, an employee who signed the petition, wrote. “We have found numerous needles in our store in the last year (one just laying in the middle of the cafe floor of all places!) and, frankly, I’m over it.”
It’s definitely a scary issue, and now the company is listening.
“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,” Reggie Borges, a representative for Starbucks, told Business Insider.
In response to the issue, Starbucks has started to install sharps boxes in the restrooms of Seattle shops, and employees have been trained on how to properly handle the needles if they find them.
It’s a very unfortunate problem, but if it’s this widespread, it’s good to hear that Starbucks is at least trying to stay on top of it for its employees. Everyone deserves to feel safe when they’re at work—and when they’re just stopping by to grab a cup of coffee.