OSHA Clarifies Treatment of Healthcare Linens

This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has clarified the recommended treatment of dirty hospital linens.

According to this letter from the American Reusable Textile Association, OSHA has clarified that hospital linens that are soiled with blood or other bodily fluids that can transmit disease are not meant to be thrown away with other hospital waste, known as “red bag waste.”

Unlike trash from hospitals, clinics, or other healthcare facilities, linens are supposed to be placed in impermeable bags to be picked up by a certified healthcare launderer, then cleaned and returned.

The reason for laundering linens rather than throwing them away is not much safer, but it also saves lots of money from a facility not having to constantly buy new linens. Even though healthcare laundry is much more specialized and labor-intensive than other kinds of laundry, the cost of buying new is still much more expensive. Furthermore, disposing of linens only contributes to pollution and fuller landfills.

While most facility managers and healthcare professionals know how to properly dispose of linens, the OSHA clarification means that there is a common gap in communication between those two parties. But once good practices are established through education and training, everyone benefits.

CLEAN is happy to offer comprehensive healthcare laundry and linen services to the St. Louis area. Our brand new, environmentally-friendly, HLAC-certified facility is specially made for the unique requirements of the healthcare industry. For more information, contact us online or call 1-800-GO-CLEAN.