Although the Local Government Act 1993 (LGA) does not require local councils to provide waste management services, if they choose to do so the services provided should meet the reasonable needs of local communities.
As a form of municipal waste, the safe disposal of community sharps should be considered in each local council's waste management strategy.
Under Section 124 (Order 22) of the LGA, local councils may specify that the owners and occupiers of residential premises manage their community sharps in a manner that is acceptable to the council from an OHS or other perspective. This may include prohibiting disposal of community sharps to domestic waste and recycling services.
Orders 21 (keeping land or premises in a safe or healthy condition) and 27 (removal of dangerous objects from a public place) are also relevant, while Section 630 of the LGA makes it an offence to break or leave a syringe in a public place.
However, a Council Order to manage the disposal of community sharps is unlikely to have the desired outcome unless readily accessible disposal options have been provided as an alternative to using domestic waste and recycling services.
Local councils also have responsibility under the LGA for the maintenance of public health and safety in public places, as well as a common law 'duty of care' in respect to property they own, or over which they have a statutory responsibility for control and maintenance.
All reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that persons using local council land or premises are protected from hazards where they are known (or should be known) to exist, and where removal of the hazard is reasonably practical.