Title:
Apparatus for holding a container at an angle
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for holding a container, where the container in turn is used to hold objects to be disposed of, is disclosed. The device is designed to hold the container in a tilted or angled orientation so that objects placed within the container move away from the entry location due to gravity and thereby provide for more efficient use and safer use of the container. By tilting the container to one side, and in particular, towards the side furthest from the entry location of the container, the objects placed into the container fall away from the entry location to allow for more objects to be placed into the container. In one embodiment the device may be a wire-type cage configuration with rotatable legs. In another embodiment the device may itself be a solid or partially solid container with a rotatable leg section.



Inventors:
Woodcock, John E. (Downingtown, PA, US)
Application Number:
11/188517
Publication Date:
01/25/2007
Filing Date:
07/25/2005
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A47F5/12
View Patent Images:
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20080251316SCAFFOLD ACCESS LADDER BRACKET ASSEMBLYOctober, 2008Libert et al.
20070284495Tray Mounting SystemDecember, 2007Charles
20090230272GOODS DISPLAY HOOKSeptember, 2009Miyaue
20050161571Adjustable shoring postJuly, 2005Wood



Primary Examiner:
CHAN, KO HUNG
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Stradley Ronon (Malvern, PA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A device for holding a container that is used to hold objects to be disposed of, comprising: a wire cage; a set of legs connected to the wire cage such that the wire cage is tiltable to one side thereby holding the container at an angle.

2. The device for holding a container of claim 1, wherein the set of legs are rotatably connected to the wire cage.

3. The device for holding a container of claim 1, wherein the wire cage holds the container at an angle greater than approximately 15 degrees from a vertical orientation.

4. The container holding device of claim 1, wherein the wire cage and legs are constructed of stainless steel.

5. The container holding device of claim 1, wherein the wire cage is constructed of stainless steel.

6. The container holding device of claim 1, further comprising a leg retaining element connected at one end to the set of legs and connectable at the other end of said leg retaining element to the wire cage.

7. The container holding device of claim 6, wherein the leg retaining element is retractable and extendable to permit varied tilt angles of the container holding device.

8. The container holding device of claim 1, wherein the wire cage is constructed of a powder coated metallic material.

9. The container holding device of claim 1, wherein the set of legs are constructed of a powder coated metallic material.

10. The container holding device of claim 1, wherein the wire cage is constructed of approximately 3/16 inch diameter wire elements.

11. The container holding device of claim 1, wherein the set of legs may be laterally extended to prevent the container holding device from tipping, thereby increasing lateral stability.

12. The container holding device of claim 1, further comprising a motor to shake the container holding device and container.

13. A sharps container holding device comprising a container holding section and means to hold the container holding section and the sharps container within the container holding section at a set tilt angle.

14. The sharps container holding device of claim 13, wherein the means to hold the container holding section is a rotatable element attached to a side of the container holding device.

15. The sharps container holding device of claim 13, wherein the means to hold the container holding section is a wall mounted rotatable element.

16. The sharps container holding device of claim 13, wherein the container holding section is a solid thermoplastic container.

17. The sharps container holding device of claim 13, wherein the container holding section is a perforated thermoplastic container.

18. The sharps container holding device of claim 13, wherein the container holding section is a wire cage.

19. A device for holding a container at an angle, where the container is used to hold objects to be disposed of, comprising: at least three ring elements, said ring elements shaped to encircle the perimeter of the container; at least two U-shaped reinforcing elements attached to the at least three ring elements whereby said at least two U-shaped reinforcing elements and the at least three ring elements form a cage device shaped to hold the container; a set of legs rotatably connected to the cage device whereby the cage device holding the container may be tilted to one side at a stable angle.

20. The container holding device of claim 19, further comprising a motor to shake the container holding device and container thereby urging the disposed of objects to the lowest point within the container.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to an apparatus to hold a container where the container encloses disposed of objects, such that the container, as held by the container holder, is safer and may be used more efficiently. More particularly this invention relates to a device that holds a container at an angle so that items placed into the container are compelled by gravity to move away from the area directly proximate to the input location or opening, thereby allowing for a more efficient and safer use of the container. In a particular embodiment of the invention, the device is configured to hold a sharps container at an angle so that disposed of objects placed into the sharps container fall away from the sharps container opening. Because the sharps objects do not become tangled directly below the sharps container opening, the users will not be injured by a sharps object that may be extending out of the sharps container opening, and the sharps container will hold more disposed of sharps items, thereby increasing the safety, utility and efficiency of the sharps container.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Disposal containers are used in many varied settings, including offices, schools, and laboratories. These containers are often used to hold disposable medical waste, or disposable devices or instruments that themselves may contain disposable medical waste. For several reasons, including safety for the users, such containers are generally configured with a top or cover having an opening through which the objects or things to be disposed of are placed. The container cover may often times be sealed to the container to prevent users from having ready access to the disposed of objects and possibly become injured or infected by the disposed of device and/or medical waste.

Because the entry point for the container (a) is often limited to one opening, (b) is often limited in size, and the container cover (c) is sealed to the container, all waste placed into the container, or objects placed into the container tend to fall into a position directly below or adjacent to the opening. As more objects are placed into the container, and each falls directly below the opening, the objects tend to fall into each and become tangled with each other similar to a pile of sticks. As the objects become tangled directly below the opening, they create a hazard by preventing future objects from being readily placed into the container opening. Moreover, because the objects tend to become tangled and clog the space directly proximate to the container opening, a substantial volume of the container remains unused. In the normal usage, the use of the container is potential unsafe, and is very inefficient.

Certain prior art exists that could have application to use as a container holder. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,903,923, issued to Krentel teaches a knock down display rack having a top container support, a container and a base. Krentel is designed and configured for use as a retail display rack. Nothing in Krentel suggests usage of the rack to hold containers into which disposed of objects are to be placed. As such, Krentel does not address the needs for a laboratory environment container.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,467,735, issued to Clinton discloses a device for supporting a flexible bag into which objects may be placed. The Clinton device is configured out of a rigid wire-like material, but appears to be limited to holding a flexible bag. Moreover, there is no suggestion that the Clinton device has any capability of tilting a bag or container, which possibly could be placed within the wire cage device.

U.S. Pat. No. 5,002,246, issued to Chaffin et al., teaches a container drain support that includes a base with support to receive and position various shaped containers. Chaffin et al. does not, however, disclose that a container into which disposed of objects could be safely placed in the container support such that the container could be more safely and more efficiently use. Indeed, the only suggestion of Chaffin et al. is to provide a device to hold containers upside down so that gravity assists in getting out of the container all of the product which was in the container, which is the opposite of the problem identified for current containers holding disposed of objects.

Finally, U.S. Pat. No. 5,647,502, issued to Marsh shows a terrestrial wall mounted medical waste disposal container with a flexibly pivoted top closure lid. Marsh does not, however, disclose any means to hold the disposal container at any angle that would permit more efficient use of the volume within the container.

Accordingly, none of the above prior art patents, nor any other device within the knowledge of the applicant, addresses the needs of a laboratory environment container holder to make use of such containers safer and more efficient.

It would be desirable to have an apparatus to hold such containers which in turn hold objects to be disposed of, such that the objects fall into a position away from the entry point in the container and allow for a safer and more efficient use of the total container volume. Such improvements and results have not been seen or achieved in the relevant art.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The above noted problems, which are inadequately or incompletely resolved by the prior art are completely addressed and resolved by the present invention.

A preferred aspect of the invention is a device for holding a container that is used to hold objects to be disposed of, comprising a wire cage, a set of legs connected to the wire cage such that the wire cage is tiltable to one side thereby holding the container at an angle.

In one preferred embodiment of the present invention, the device for holding a container that is used to hold objects to be disposed of, is a wire cage, wherein the wire cage holds the container at an angle greater than approximately 15 degrees from a vertical orientation.

In another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the container holding device is designed to hold a sharps container, and the container holding device is held at a desired tilt angle by a rotatable element attached to a wall or other vertical element.

In yet another preferred embodiment of the present invention, the container holding device, further includes a motor to shake the container holding device and container held in the holding device.

In still another preferred embodiment of the present invention, a device for holding a container at an angle, where the container is used to hold objects to be disposed of, comprising at least three ring elements, said ring elements shaped to encircle the perimeter of the container, at least two U-shaped reinforcing elements attached to the at least three ring elements whereby said at least two U-shaped reinforcing elements and the at least three ring elements form a cage device shaped to hold the container, a set of legs rotatably connected to the cage device whereby the cage device holding the container may be tilted to one side at a stable angle.

The invention will be best understood by reading the following detailed description of the several disclosed embodiments in conjunction with the attached drawings that briefly described below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For the purpose of illustrating the invention, the attached drawings show several embodiments and aspects of several embodiments that are presently preferred. However, it should be understood that the invention is not limited to the precise arrangement and instrumentality shown in the accompanying drawings.

FIG. 1: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder having two horizontal ring elements;

FIG. 2: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder having three horizontal ring elements and two vertical band elements;

FIG. 3: is a front view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder;

FIG. 3A: is a front view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder with a wider leg section base;

FIG. 4: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder in a storage configuration having three horizontal ring elements;

FIG. 5: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder showing disposed of objects within the container being held at an appropriate tilt angle;

FIG. 6: is a side view of an upright container not held or tilted by the inventive container holder;

FIG. 7: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder with a motor used to shake the container holder and container;

FIG. 8: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of wire tie connector for the wire cage embodiment of the inventive container holder;

FIG. 9: is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder fabricated in semi-solid configuration; and

FIG. 10: is a front view of a preferred embodiment of the inventive container holder mounted on a side to a wall.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

The present invention is an apparatus for holding a disposable waste container to make the container safer and more efficient to use. In a preferred embodiment, the present invention is an apparatus designed to hold a disposable waste container at an angle such that waste or objects holding or covered in waste that are placed into the container move by gravity to a point furthest away from the container opening. Another preferred embodiment of the present invention further includes a small motor to gently vibrate or shake the disposable waste container to urge the waste or waste containing devices into a more compact orientation within the container volume.

In one preferred embodiment, the present invention may be configured similar to a wire cage construction. As shown in FIGS. 1 through 7, in a wire cage 10 embodiment, there are three basic elements to the container holder 10. First, there are two or more horizontal ring elements 20. Second, there are one or more vertical band elements 30 connected to the horizontal ring elements 20, which when connected to each other form a cage basket-type device. Third, there is a leg section 50 attached to the container holder or wire cage 10 to hold the wire cage 10 at a tilt angle from a perpendicular orientation.

There are several different means of effectively connecting the horizontal ring elements 20 to the vertical band elements 30. In one embodiment, the connection points 25 may be a solder material. Another embodiment, illustrated in FIG. 8, would be to have a separate wire type tie connector 25 at each point where the horizontal ring elements 20 cross a vertical band element 30.

For ease of storage and shipment, the leg section 50 may be rotatable about an axis along the top most horizontal ring element 20 as shown in FIGS. 2 and 4. In such an embodiment, as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, 3, and 4, the leg section 50 is connected to a horizontal ring element 20 by a hinge 70 that allows the leg section to rotate into a position essentially parallel to the vertical band elements 30 and perpendicular to the horizontal ring elements 20. In this storage configuration, as shown in FIG. 4, the wire cages 10 may be stacked one inside the other. Such a stacking configuration allows for more efficient storage and shipping of the container holders.

To maintain the rotatable leg section 50 in place at a preferred angle with respect to the vertical band elements 30, a leg section retainer 55 may be employed as shown in FIGS. 1, 2, and 5. In the embodiment shown, the leg section retainer 55 connects the leg section 50 to the bottom most horizontal ring element 20. The leg section retainer 55 locks the leg section 50 in place to prevent the leg section 50 from rotating beyond a desired tilt angle 40. The connection between the leg section retainer 55 and a horizontal ring element may be, in two similar preferred embodiments, a latch 56 or hook 56.

The length of the leg section retainer 55 sets the angle of tilt 40. If the leg section retainer 55 is shorter, then the angle of tilt 40 is smaller or more acute from a pure horizontal reference. Similarly, if the leg section retainer 55 is longer, then the angle of tilt 40 is larger, and the container 10 is tilted further from an upright position. The leg section retainer 55 may be configured, in a preferred embodiment, to be telescoping, so that the user may determine an appropriate tilt angle 40 for the container 10, by setting a desired leg section retainer 55 length. In preferred embodiments, the tilt angle 40 for the container, as shown in FIGS. 1 and 5, has been found to be most efficient in the range of approximately 15 degrees from vertical to approximately 75 degrees from vertical.

When the tilt angle 40 is smaller, the container holder 10 and container 90 are in a more upright position, and will have a tendency to return to an approximate upright position because the center-of-gravity of the container holder 10 and container 90 is located over the bottom of the container, and not over the side of the container. This is considered to be an unstable configuration. When the tilt angle 40 is larger and the center-of-gravity of the combined container holder 10, container 90 and any contents in the container is located over the side of the container in a tilted configuration, then the container 90 is in a more stable configuration, in that the container within the container holder will tend to remain in the tilted configuration.

To further increase the stability of the container holder, non-slip container feet 60 may be placed at the bottom of the leg section 50 as shown in FIGS. 1 and 2. Similarly, non-slip material may also be placed on the bottom of the vertical band elements 30 so that when in an upright orientation, the container holder 10 will not slide or inadvertently move. The container holder lateral stability may be increased by widening the distance between the two feet of leg section 50. As shown by comparison between FIGS. 3 and 3A, illustrating a front view of preferred embodiments of the container holder 10, where the width between the leg section feet 60 is increased, the lateral or tipping stability of the container is increased. In a preferred embodiment, the leg section 50 could be configured and constructed to permit the width of the leg section to be variable using one or more telescoping or extendable elements 57 between the two leg section feet.

The inventive container holder is configured to allow easy placement of a container 90 into the container holder 10. The container 90 is simply slid into the wire cage 10 formed by the horizontal ring elements 20 and vertical elements 30. Similarly, once the container 90 is full, or when a user otherwise wishes to remove and replace the container 90 with an empty container 90, the container can simply be lifted out of the container holder 10. There are no locks to undo, no latches to remove or unseat before removing a container from the container holder 10.

As shown in FIG. 6, when objects to be disposed of are placed into an upright container 90 through the container opening 91, and not using the inventive container holder 10, the objects naturally fall directly below the container opening 91, and tend to become tangled among each other in that location immediately proximate to the container opening 91. As more objects are placed into the container 90, they tend to pile up on top of each other and eventually will impede other objects from being placed into the container 90 through the container opening 91 without obstruction. Where the user can not easily place the object to be disposed of through the container opening 91, he or she may either attempt to force the object into the container 90, or leave the object partially within the container 90 and sticking partially outside of the container 90. If such objects are medical glass pipettes or syringes, there are several hazards. First, forcing a glass object raises the risk that the glass may break or shatter, which could cause injury to the user. Second, if the object is not forced into the container 90, and where part of disposed of objects remain outside of the container, then users may contact such objects. Where those objects have medical or other hazardous waste, users who contact the objects are at risk. Moreover, such objects that are not completely inside the container are at risk of being hit or broken, which could exposed users to hazardous materials which were to be disposed of within an enclosed container.

By comparison, as shown in FIG. 5, with a container 90 placed in the container holder 10 and tilted to one side, when objects to be disposed of are placed into the container 90 through the container opening 91, the objects naturally fall into place away from the container opening 91. Such objects also tend to align with each other into place due to gravity. The potential for any of the objects to remain directly below the container opening 91 and for such objects to become tangled with each other is greatly diminished. As such, more of the usable volume of the container 90 is used, and the risk of injury to the user because objects may be sticking out of the container opening 91 is substantially reduced.

As shown in FIGS. 1 through 8, the container holder is a free-standing device. In another preferred embodiment, which is useful in a laboratory environment, the container holder may be side mounted to a wall or to some other vertical section. In this configuration, as illustrated in FIG. 10, the container holder 10 does not sit on a floor, but is mounted by a side of the container holder 10 to a wall or side of some other substantially stationary object. For example, the container holder 10 may be mounted inside a laboratory hood area. The side mounting element 75 may, similar to the leg section 50, be rotatable to allow the user to adjust the tilt angle and thereby determine an appropriate tilt angle for the container holder and container being held. In a further refined embodiment of the side-mounting element 75, there may be specific detents or positions at which the side-mounting element 75 is held. While the detents hold the container holder 10 at a tilt angle, the user may easily vary the tilt angle to less tilt or more tilt by simply urging the container holder to the next detent position. Detent positions may be set on the side-mounting element 75 at, for particular preferred embodiments, preselected angular divisions of five degrees or ten degree increments.

The container holder as shown in FIGS. 1 through 8 is in a wire cage configuration. Such drawings are but one preferred embodiment and are not to be construed as limiting the materials which could be used to fabricate the container holder 10. Accordingly, in another preferred embodiment, the container holder 10 could be fabricated from into a solid or semi-solid configuration as illustrated in FIG. 9. In such a configuration, the container holder 10 could be made, in other preferred embodiments from plastic, thermoplastic, or polyvinyl chloride (“PVC”). When fabricated from such material, the container holder may be easily cleaned if disposed of materials or products came in contact with the container holder 10.

As previously noted, in another preferred embodiment, a small electric motor 80 may be attached to the container holder 10. As shown in FIG. 7, the motor 70 may be located near the bottom of the container holder 10 to increase stability of the container holder 10 by bringing the center-of-gravity lower. Through use of the motor 70, the container holder, and also the container may be gently shaken by the motor to urge the disposed objects placed inside the container, again by gravity, into a lower position within the container 90. The electric motor may be operated by a small standard battery, or in an alternative embodiment may be run by a standard wall outlet AC connection.

The above detailed description teaches certain preferred embodiments of the present inventive container holder for allowing safer and more efficient use of a container to hold disposable objects. While preferred embodiments have been described and disclosed, it will be recognized by those skilled in the art that modifications and/or substitutions are possible and such modifications and substitutions are within the true scope and spirit of the present invention. It is likewise understood that the attached claims are intended to cover all such modifications and/or substitutions.