Laundry seems simple, right? Unfortunately, staff error and injuries can occur during the laundry process, exposing staff to dangerous risks. In fact, senior living employees are exposed to some of the highest rates of work-related injuries across industries – even higher than traditionally-dangerous jobs like mining and manufacturing! What’s more- senior living employees experience injury at a rate seven times higher than the average worker across all industries!
Don’t risk staff injury; give Faultless Healthcare Linen a call and learn how you can outsource your senior community’s laundry to keep staff safer and reduce your community’s number of workers compensation claims.
The Risks of In-House Laundry
We get it; your employees have been trained to follow proper laundry protocols and have good intentions. But even the best employee makes an occasional mistake.
“In the current economic climate, everyone is trying to accomplish more with fewer people or resources, and that usually results in shortcuts being taken,” said Nathan Gaubert, chemist and laundry specialist for Spartan Chemical. “Many times, bad practices get started when an individual is simply trying to get things done faster to help out an overburdened system and other times it is out of ignorance or a misunderstanding of the importance of the task at hand.”
Senior living facility employees “are at a heightened risk of exposure to some pretty nasty pathogens,” said Steve Kovacs, research and development section head at Procter & Gamble Professional. For example, one of the top culprits of exposure: carrying soiled linens too close to the body. Linen should always been transported away from the body, or even better, in a covered linen cart, to avoid coming in contact with an employee’s skin or uniform. A study by the American Journal of Infection Control found that almost 60 percent of healthcare staff’s uniforms contained disease-causing pathogens, including even drug resistant organisms! Especially because only 58 percent of laundry workers wash their workwear and their personal clothes separately, if soiled patient linen comes in contact with an employee’s uniform, it’s basically coming in contact with all their clothes.
Once in the laundry room, staff should take care not to shake soiled linens as they are being sorted or put in the washer, as shaking may distribute potentially harmful bacteria into the air putting employees who breathe that air at risk for infection.
After an employee is done handling soiled linens, the easiest way for an employee to avoid disease is to wash their hands! Healthcare workers are scrupulous about washing their hands, but when performing seemingly innocent tasks such as collecting not visibly soiled linen, the motivation to clean their hands after is lower.
Contact with pathogens isn’t the only risk posed by sorting laundry. Employees must be extra cautious about inspecting linen for needles and other sharps that could stick a laundry employee as he/she sorts the laundry for washing or transfers it between the washer and dryer. In fact, the risk posed by sharps is so high that a Journal of Occupational Medicine study found that workers who come into contact with linen infected with hepatitis A have a greater chance of contracting the virus than nursing aides who work with infected patients.
Worker’s Compensation Claims
“In the absence of proper safeguards and procedures, a facility could experience higher worker absenteeism from an increase in sick days, as well as a greater number of worker compensation claims,” said Kovacs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 3 million nonfatal workplace accidents occurred in 2012. That adds up to 3.5 injured workers out of every 100 full-time workers. Don’t let one of your valued workers be subjected to injury from laundry. Faultless Healthcare Linen specializes in the hygienic laundering of medical linens- and that’s it! So you can ensure that the job is done right– and safely.