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Meeting Inspection Requirements (Part 2)

In the December issue of Laundry Today, I wrote extensively on the importance of understanding and preparing for JCAHO or OSHA inspections as this pertains to Laundry Operations.  I addressed hazardous chemicals, contaminated laundry, heat stress, lifting and pushing hazards and fire hazards.  This Part 2 segment will address the other applicable standards that apply to Laundry Operations.

Again I must remit that it is important for the Laundry Manager and those supervising these operations to become familiar with the latest advancements in the industry, especially as to how these advancements will assist you in meeting the requirements I have discussed.  The best way to achieve this is to continue formal education, maintain constant communication with your peers and to attend the Clean Show in Las Vegas, August 11-14, 2003.

That said, the following article completes my overview of areas that will be reviewed in an inspection.

This particular OSHA standard is probably the most overlooked in the industry.  It is important that when you specify laundry equipment for your facility that you include minimal noise exposure requirements that you will accept…take into account the existing decibel readings in your facility.

Potential Hazard: 

  • Occupational Exposure to high noise levels from loud machinery in the laundry, including ancillary support equipment can lead to occupationally induced hearing loss, hearing impairment, hypertension, elevated blood pressure levels and other applicable health and occupational hazards.

Possible Solution:

  • A safety and health program that recognizes any hazard that can, and may possibly be created by noise exposure.

While the most common link to this standard is wet floors than can cause slipping, it is important to examine the most generic causes for slips and falls within a laundry facility.

Potential Hazards:

  • Exposure to slips, trips and falls from wet floors, crowded working conditions, excessive cart over crowding, and improper attention to the lifting hazards that were addressed last month.
  • Improper or over lubrication of equipment that would cause floors and walking services to be lubricated and therefore slip and fall apparent, low slings that can hit employees, flatwork feeding devices that swing in and out that may hit and employee etc.

Possible Solution:  A safety and health program that recognizes and addresses any and all slip/trips and falls hazards.

This OSHA standard is probably the most difficult to understand and therefore over reaction and misinterpretation remains apparent in the health care industry.

Potential Hazard:
Exposure to bloodborne, pathogens through contact with “contaminated laundry” by not wearing PPE.  Keep in mind first and foremost that a uniform should never be considered PPE, in other words a uniform is something worn to identify your profession to others, mostly the patient.  PPE is something worn over a uniform or street clothing, neither PPE or a uniform can or should be interchanged for substitution purposes i.e. a Uniform used for PPE or PPE used as a uniform.

Possible Solutions:

  • Employers must ensure that employees who have contact with “contaminated laundry” -- and please understand what contaminated represents -- wear appropriate PPE as referenced in the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 1910.1030 (d) (4) (iv) (B) when handling or sorting contaminated laundry.
  • Employers must ensure employees wear PPE such as fluid resistant gloves, gowns, face shields, and/or masks, when sorting contaminated laundry.  It is imperative that while the probability of actual exposure to contaminated laundry may be the cause for infection that every precaution be made.
  • The use of thick utility gloves when sorting contaminated laundry does provide workers with additional protection, but remember these gloves can be decontaminated through normal laundering processes in order that these gloves are used.  Because the use of disposable products such as gloves does reflect greater operational cost to your facility, I would always recommend that reusable gloves be provided for use over disposable products. 
  • This entire standard should not be the cause for establishing a post sorting operation over pre-sorting.  Pre-sorting in my opinion represents the most cost beneficial way of processing laundry in a hospitality, linen rental or health care environment.

Potential Hazard: Exposure to blood borne pathogens from contaminated laundry that contain sharps.

Possible Solutions:

  • A safety and health program that includes procedures for appropriate disposal and handling of sharps and follow practices outlined in the OSGA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard.  (1910.1030)
  • Needle and sharps containers need to be available and in close proximity to areas where needles may be found, including laundries.

Potential Hazard: Exposure of a worker to a latex allergy from wearing latex gloves that are utilized when handling or sorting laundry.

Possible Solutions:  Use appropriate gloves for latex sensitive employees.

  • Employers should provide appropriate gloves when exposure to potentially infectious materials exists.
  • Alternatives shall be readily accessible to those employees who are or may be allergic to the gloves normally provided.

In both articles I have attempted to discuss the basics as they apply to preparing for both JCAHO and OSHA inspections.  There really is very little difference applicable to the review process, other than the OSHA inspection may be more directly related to specific standards that OSHA has established. Remember that JCAHO and OSHA do communicate routinely, therefore there is a crossing of information that both organizations utilize to insure that your employees and facilities comply with the rules and standards that exist. In many cases your facility should establish specific policies as they apply to both processes.  Remember, just be safe and remember your employees come first.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Mission Linen's Two Healthcare Accreditations

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Mission Linen Supply has received two healthcare accreditations from Healthcare Laundry Accreditation (HLAC) for their Chino, California and Phoenix, Arizona plants. The first was received in 2009 and the Arizona accreditation was received this year. HLAC inspects and accredits laundries that process healthcare textiles for hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare facilities.