As recently announced by the United States Department of Labor, New York Presbyterian-Columbia University Medical Center exposed its employees to contaminated laundry and tuberculosis risks.
With this news in mind, it’s critical that facilities with a central laundry operation always follow OSHA safety recommendations. All laundry that has been soiled with blood or other potentially infectious materials must be treated using universal precautions.
While you can refer to the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iv) for specific recommendations on handling contaminated laundry, below are some highlights:
- Handle contaminated laundry as little as possible with minimal agitation.
- Bag contaminated laundry at the location of use. Do not sort or rinse laundry at the location where it was used [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iv)(A)(1)].
- Place wet contaminated laundry in leak-proof, and color-coded or labeled containers, at the location where it was used [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iv)(A)(2)].
- Whenever contaminated laundry is wet and presents a reasonable likelihood of soak-through of or leakage from the bag or container, the laundry shall be placed and transported in bags or containers which prevent soak-through and/or leakage of fluids to the exterior [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(4)(iv)(A)(3)].
- For more information on labeling requirements see: Labeling Requirements Table. (Taken from Bloodborne Pathogens and Long-term Care Workers OSHA document 3131).
- Contaminated laundry bags should not be held close to the body or squeezed when transporting to avoid punctures from improperly discarded syringes.
- A Sharps container must be available in the laundry area to safely dispose of any sharps that may be found in bedding.
- Ensure all employees wear gloves, gowns, safety glasses and other appropriate Personal Protective Equipment when handling soiled laundry.
- Laundry employees must wash their face and hands when leaving the Laundry Area.
- Laundry employees should be included in the Bloodborne Pathogens Program for your facility. This means they should be trained in the BBP standard and be offered Hepatitis B Vaccination series.
For more specific OSHA information, please refer to the OSHA Hospital E-tool on Laundry operations.
Philadelphia, PA, 19102