Starbucks baristas in Seattle have revealed they have to dispose of hypodermic needles left behind by drug users nearly every day.
Three employees at the North Seattle-area Starbucks revealed to KIRO that they had been forced to take anti-viral medications after being poked by the needles while working.
“[Needle users] put them in the tampon disposal boxes in the bathrooms and we have to dig them out,” one barista claimed.
The baristas, who were not named, said they want the coffee chain to install locked needle disposal boxes in restrooms to avoid being jabbed.
“I’m pretty sure it looks worse to have your baristas continuously exposed to HIV and hep C and hep B,” she added.
Starbucks spokesman Reggie Borges told KIRO that in 2017 the company started training employees on what steps need to be taken when hypodermic needles are found.
He confirmed that at least two Seattle-area baristas have been poked by needles, but disputed the claims that the baristas had to “dig” the needles out of the bins.
A Starbucks spokesperson told Fox News: “The drug abuse crisis in Seattle impacts every company and we urge city officials to work with employers to make our public places safe for everyone.
“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.”
The Seattle region had the third-highest number of homeless people in the U.S. last year, despite the city spending $68 million on combating homelessness.
In August, health officials warned that drug use may be behind a small cluster of recent HIV diagnoses in North Seattle.
The eight new infections, which were all diagnosed since February, involved individuals described as heterosexuals, drug users and recently homeless, according to The Seattle Times.
And earlier this year, KIRO obtained a letter sent to Visit Seattle by the organizers of a large pharmaceutical convention claiming they felt unsafe during a recent visit because of behavior they encountered in the street, including people openly urinating and defecating in the street.
“We witnessed three young addicts sitting outside of a major establishment smoking from a pipe, and one was passed out,” the letter read, adding that they “lost count of the number of people walking around talking to themselves.”
Last month, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said her proposed budget for the city would set aside $1.3 million for a pilot program that would create an injection site for drug users.