Who is Responsible for the Laundry of Your Medical Scrubs?

It is a common question that some nurses, particularly in small facilities that do not have clear protocols on the issue. Who is responsible for the laundry of the scrubs then?

Fortunately, the responsibility of cleaning the medical scrubs gets outlined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The distinction is clear. If your scrub functions as personal protective equipment (PPE), then the responsibility falls on the employer (meaning the hospital or dental clinic).

If the scrubs do not fall under PPE, which means it is for uniform, and then it is your responsibility to send your medical scrubs to the laundry shop.

When Does a Scrub Become a PPE?

The OSHA defines PPE as protective equipment that is designed to minimize the exposure to workplace hazards that can cause illnesses or injuries. Among the risks are chemical, physical, radiological, electrical, radiological, and other job-related hazards.

The Personal Protective Equipment may include, but not limited to:

  • Helmets
  • Gloves
  • Coveralls
  • Full bodysuits
  • Hard hats
  • Earplugs
  • Vests
  • Boots

All PPE gear and clothing must pass the strictest standards set by the government concerning safety. Some of the conditions include:

  1. It should fit the worker perfectly and comfortably.
  2. It should not distract the workers from doing their job.
  3. It should provide ample protection to minimize the dangers.

In most workplaces, the workers undergo training on the correct use of the PPE. The training will help them understand when it is necessary to wear the equipment, how to correctly put it on, limitations of the gear, and proper maintenance and laundry.

Of course, with medical scrubs, you do not need to undergo hours of training compared to, say, an electrician, for example.

OSHA Regulations on Scrubs

So, what does the OSHA say about the scrubs?

Most scrubs function as a uniform anyway. For instance, a nurse who works in the administration office, reception, or monitoring non-risk patients is not covered under the oversight of the OSHA.

OSHA only comes in the medical scrubs if personnel used them as a PPE.

For example, a nurse assisting in a surgical operation uses the scrub as a means to protect themselves from bloodborne pathogens.

In which case, the hospital is responsible for the laundering and disposal of the scrubs. The employee will only dump the clothing at the laundry bin of the facility. They are not required to pay for the cleaning of the scrubs.

However, there are instances when the scrubs used as a uniform but got contaminated with bloodborne pathogens. The hospital must have a policy to deal with these kinds of situations. At this point, the facility should have a working arrangement with a commercial cleaner that is certified to handle PPEs. They should first decontaminate the scrub, sanitize it, and clean the material.

The hospital can become penalized for violating the OSHA standards when it comes to scrubs. In the same manner, the facilities may also adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocol on the prevention of infectious agents in healthcare settings. The protocol got issued in 2007, and it is even more stringent compared to the OSHA guidelines.

So, there you have it. The answer to who does the laundry depends on how you use your scrubs. At least, next time, you would not be stumped when faced with the same question.

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