Sharps in medical linens are worrisome for workers for good reason. Medical linen facilities are not safe from these hazards. Sharps get trapped, hidden, or left in linens and uniforms, and surprise unsuspecting employees in the worst way. Having the right procedures and protocol in place can prevent infectious injury from occurring in your facility.
Though only 1% of needle injuries that happen every year nationwide occur in laundry facilities, that’s still between 1,250 to 1,700 incidents annually. HIV and Hepatitis top the list of likely transmissions during an accident, so it’s best to be as cautious and prepared as possible.
Though unintentional, sharps can show up in medical laundry. Injuries from sharps left in soiled linens are a leading cause of injury in the medical laundry industry. Prevention training is vital to limit your employees’ exposure to infectious diseases.
Here is how you can protect your staff:
Use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
There’s no substitute for the basics. PPE in your medical laundry facility should take the form of gloves, gowns, lab coats, face shields or masks. This is a necessity in the soiled side, or intake part of your business, but might be extended to the “clean side” if the need arises.
Have No-Touch Methods of Sharp Removal
The soil side of your linen laundry facility is the most at risk for sharps exposure. Employees are tasked with removing them when found, and need to do so safely.
Here are two safe methods of sharp removal:
- Metal on Metal: Use grasping devices when pulling sharps from linen or uniforms. Never use an ungloved hand.
- Shake and Separate: Though shaking of soiled linen isn’t usually recommended, if a sharp is present and unyielding to grasping efforts, gently shaking the attached linen will loosen the sharp.
Have Sharp Containers Available
Sharps can appear at any time, and you need to have a place to dispose of them. Sharps containers are puncture-proof, water-tight, and easily identifiable.
Cultivate a Safety Culture
Training and educating your employees is essential in order to keep them safe. The CDC has suggestions for influencing employee attitudes and behavior permanently.
1. Make visible safety-related statements.
Safety comes first, and visual reminders throughout your facility will serve as constant reminders.
- Prioritize safety committees. It’s easy to brush off groups responsible for overseeing safety protocols if they have no bite. Giving authority or integrating leadership into the safety committee will generate more concern over their activities and conclusions.
- Establish specific action plans. Having observable protocols and procedures in place for when something does go wrong for specific departments makes your safety efforts more effective.
2. Involve personnel from various departments.
One department pushing its will onto others will find resentment instead of adherence for their efforts. Including members from all sectors of your business will make the effort more integrated and effective.
3. Encourage reporting and documentation of found sharps.
Your employees should document when they encounter a sharp. There are many reasons for this documentation, and your employee should know that these efforts are to ultimately safeguard them from future exposure. Some reasons include:
- Source Tracing. If there is a timing or linen similarity to the presence of sharps, then it might not take much to piece together which department is responsible.
- Company Safety. Any hazardous material or situation needs to be documented and addressed. With enough information, decisions can be made as to how to best deal with the issues.
Medico Is Your Safe, Professional Medical Linen Service
If you’re looking for a reliable medical linen service with the experience and industry know-how to deliver clean, sharp-free linens every time, trust Medico Linen Service.
Between our HLAC certification and our clean green laundry process, there’s no question as to whether you’re making the right choice. Above all, we strive for your total satisfaction. Call us today at 800.464.6334 and ask about a free quote.