- OSHA Healthcare Advisor - http://blogs.hcpro.com/osha -

Ask the expert—Laundering scrubs

Q: What does OSHA say about the home laundering of scrubs?

A: If in your facility scrubs do not function as personal proactive equipment (PPE)—most scrubs function as uniform and not PPE—then OSHA does not have oversight on laundering.

If the scrubs function as PPE, then the employer is in violation of the bloodborne pathogen standards by having employees clean, launder, and maintain them on their own:

1910.1030(d)(3)(iv) [1]
Cleaning, Laundering, and Disposal. The employer shall clean, launder, and dispose of personal protective equipment required by paragraphs (d) and (e) of this standard, at no cost to the employee.

If non-PPE scrubs are becoming contaminated with blood or OPIM, you should have a policy that deals with how those garments are cleaned. For example, send it to a commercial cleaner identified as blood contaminated, or decontaminate the garment (probably with bleach) before sending home for cleaning. Include this information in your exposure control plan.

If this is a frequent situation, OSHA would question whether you are providing the proper training or adequate PPE selection for your employees.

Personal Protective Equipment Training Video: Comply with OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard [2] is a good source for PPE-specific training in healthcare facilities. Click on the link for a short preview of the video.

Are contaminated scrubs a problem in your healthcare facility, or do you have a policy on how to handle non-PPE contaminated work garments? Post a comment below.