Remember this song lyric from the 1980’s? (Extra points if you can name the song and band). Well, laundry is an important part of infection control in dental offices and below are a few tips on how to handle it properly and safely:
- Training is a must for anyone handling laundry. At the end of the day, it’s likely that your clothes are contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material (“OPIM”) so it’s important that workers know how to handle it (e.g., remove immediately, if penetrated by blood or other OPIM; handle with minimal agitation, so as to avoid contamination of air, environmental surfaces and person; do not take contaminated work clothes home to be washed, etc.), which PPE to wear and what to do in case of contamination (e.g., use the eyewash station, if necessary). That means untrained, front-desk personnel should not handle laundry.
- Storage is important so that contaminated laundry is not mixed with non-contaminated laundry. Put contaminated laundry in a container or bag that is:
o leak-proof, if the laundry is wet;
o marked with a hazard warning (e.g., CAUTION: Clothing contaminated with lead); and
o stored in a work area, with a handwashing facility nearby, not in an area with food or drink.
As to the first point, if there is any contaminated wash water, you should dispose of it in accordance with local, state or federal regulations.
- If using a commercial laundry to clean contaminated or potentially contaminated work clothes, inform the laundry – in writing – of the potentially harmful effects of exposure to lead. This is an OSHA requirement.
Just as it’s uncool to air your “dirty laundry” (as the saying does), it’s uncool and unsafe to handle your office’s dirty laundry without taking the necessary precautions. Your employees and patients will be much better off if you do. Reach out to Crown Uniform for help!