By Joseph Ricci
December 2, 2019
It is important for suppliers to ensure their customers understand how to properly use and maintain their products whether providing important instructions, safety data sheets or additional supporting resources. The stakes are higher for companies providing cleaning and hygiene products and services as improper use, storage and handling can pose significant safety and health risks.
For linen, uniform and facility services companies, it’s a high priority to build customers’ confidence that their products are hygienic when delivered. The rigorous Hygienically Clean certification process verifies by on-site inspection these laundries’ deployment of industry best management practices (BMPs) and requires them to test laundered textiles quarterly to ensure their products’ microbial content doesn’t exceed internationally recognized thresholds.
At the same time, the nearly 150 laundries that have attained this certification for serving healthcare facilities collaborate to support these customers post-delivery. They provide expertise and financial support for developing training resources for customers’ staffs to learn best practices for handling linen.
This began in 2015 with the production and distribution of a training video, “The 6C’s: Handling Soiled Linen in a Healthcare Environment,” which guides nurses, environmental services personnel and housekeepers who contact soiled linen at work. These six easy-to-follow steps (Cover, Collect, Contain, Consolidate, Clean, Cooperate) aid infection control, enhance patient care and reduce costs.
Universal precautions are highlighted, as it’s deemed essential for healthcare workers to assume all human blood and potentially infectious materials they handle are infected, because they can’t be sure which patients are infected or what infections are present. Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements are mentioned in-kind.
More than 1,700 healthcare professionals have obtained the video, most on a flash drive that also includes information on the certification and resources for maximizing the video’s value, such as posters to encourage them to watch it and a quiz to gauge employees’ comprehension of the presentation. Representatives of certified laundries have distributed these drives personally to customers and prospects. Members of the Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE), Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) and Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) have taken them home from Hygienically Clean exhibits at these groups’ trade shows.
In 2017, Hygienically Clean published “Handling Clean Linen in a Healthcare Environment,” recognizing that laundries’ adherence to BMPs that keep linens clean doesn’t ensure such hygiene is preserved when these products reach patients. This paper (download at www.trsa.org/handling-clean-linen/) guides customers in developing policies to safely transport, store and distribute clean linen.
A video version of the clean-linen whitepaper following the same format as its soiled-linen equivalent was released in 2019. “The Six C’s of Handling Clean Linen in a Healthcare Environment” flash drive premiered at the summer APIC and AHE conferences. This video portrays key facets of access control and highlights adherence to best practices such as avoiding storage in hallways, placing shelves and carts properly, and timing linen circulation to reduce dust and dirt buildup. These Six C’s are Count, Control, Circulate, Care, Clean and Cooperate.
The clean and soiled linen handling videos are now available on YouTube. Healthcare facilities can view these, download them and order flash drives at www.trsa.org/linen-handling.
As the administrator of Hygienically Clean certification programs, TRSA, the association for the linen, uniform and facility services industry, will continue to invest certification fees in educating the industry’s customers of the value of working with certified laundries.
As the administrator of Hygienically Clean certification programs, TRSA, the association for the linen, uniform and facility services industry, will continue to invest certification fees in educating the industry’s customers of the value of working with certified laundries. TRSA has a long history of guiding businesses other than healthcare facilities to maximize their safe handling of the industry’s products.
Restaurants, for example, require diligent monitoring of cleaning solutions when wiping solid surfaces with bar mops. They need to change tablecloths frequently. They should outfit all kitchen employees in rental garments and assure these workers turn them in for laundering by their linen or uniform service, as opposed to home washing.
Hotels must be conscious of the variety of disinfectants, cleaners and medications that contain alkalis, acids, bleaches or other chemicals that can damage fabric and cause it to deteriorate. This indicates that cleaning and disinfecting materials should never be stored with textiles. Such containers should never be rested, even temporarily, on textiles.
Linen and uniform services, wash chemical suppliers, fabric mills and cut-and-sew operations work together to engineer hygiene and longevity of textile products. Training end users to use them properly preserves those qualities. When you supply and service manufactured products, you’re the last link in the supply chain to end users. No other organization in the chain stands to gain more from such proper use.
Joseph Ricci, CAE is the President & CEO of TRSA, the Association for Linen, Uniform and Facility Services.