A garments distribution system contributes to a higher safety level in the healthcare sector

Safety awareness is an important topic. We are always looking to increase our safety awareness. Beware of where you place items. Regular maintenance. Even keeping to the right of an isle when carts and pallets pass by.

Needle-stick injuries

A large safety concern in the healthcare sector is needle-stick injuries. Employees are trained and vaccinated preventively, but sadly there are still some diseases no vaccinations can cure and employees can get permanently infected.

In the healthcare sector, the risk of a needle-stick injury is the biggest in the garments. A needle or scalpel that accidentally ends up somewhere in the garments can cause serious accidents. According to Mediq Medeco (https://pluspunt.mediqmedeco.nl/infectiepreventie-prikaccidenten) there are at least 15,000 needle-stick injuries per year. This is just the tip of the ice berg, because it is estimated that in many cases a needle-stick injury is not even reported.

A doctor or nurse always handles needles or other sharp instruments with the utmost care. The doctor is aware of the fact that he or she is working with a sharp item and therefore takes care of the safety of the patient and colleague. Prevention is essential in avoiding needle-stick injuries with these types of objects. Many hospitals have special procedures for this. Especially for used needles a careful collection and disposal procedure is necessary. 

Safety at the laundry service

Still, there are many instances (there is no specific data available, but your laundry service provider can certainly confirm) in which sharp items are still found in the garments upon arrival at the laundry service.

At many laundry services, garments are shaken upside down before being washed. This prevents needle-stick injuries and damage to parts of the garments caused by for instance pens and markers. The employee checking the garments also handles the garments with the utmost case and is very aware of the potential risk of needle-stick injuries.

The ones that are exposed to the highest risk in this whole process are the logistics employees in the healthcare sector. They come in contact with the used garments before they have been checked. These employees pick up the dirty laundry off the ground and throw it in a container (hopefully while wearing gloves). The dirty laundry is then compressed by hand to fit more garments in the container and there you have it: the risk of needle-stick injury has increased significantly. It might save you a walk to the logistics zone if you can cram two container loads in one, but this is not according to the procedure. In practice, humans have a natural drive for efficiency (or are inherently lazy)…

An LCT-Textilligence return unit immediately disposes the garments into a container. Once the container is full, the system automatically switches to the next empty container. The return unit automatically reports to the logistics employee that the container is full. The risk of needle-stick injuries is reduced and there is no need for the logistics employee to pick up dirty, potentially contaminated garments off the floor or conveyor belt and place them in the container.

There are also X-ray solutions that directly separate garments containing metals. The price tag on a suchlike solution is significant and unfortunately not yet available for our return stations. However, such a solution can of course be installed at your laundry service to reduce the risk of needle-stick injuries.

The technical arguments set forth by the Working Conditions Agency alone are perhaps not sufficient to switch to a garments distribution and collection system. But it is a qualitative argument that cannot be expressed in monetary value, in addition to all the arguments that are clearly beneficial in terms of expenses.

Please leave a message here in case you would like to be better informed on the qualitative and quantitative arguments for purchasing a garments distribution system. We will then contact you to make an appointment to non-bindingly inform you on the possibilities. LCT-Textilligence can offer a solution for any organisation.