A report recently released by New York City Council Member Ritchie Torres and CLEAN NYC claims that improper laundering practices have occurred in Gotham City which led to unsafe and unhealthy conditions in area restaurants, hotels and hospitals.
The report, “Irresponsible Industrial Laundries: A Major Public Health Threat” was cited as an impetus for a bill introduced in February by the New York City Council requiring licensing and regulation of commercial laundries serving customers in the City of New York. Torres is sponsoring the new bill which he hopes will be law next year.
Today, the industry talks back. Textile Rental Services Association (TRSA), an industry association and Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC), an industry accreditation entity, have watchdog accreditation / certification programs for industrial and commercial laundries.
“Our biggest issue with this report is that there was a lot of anecdotal evidence and old data. The report is negligible at best,” Joseph Ricci, TRSA president & CEO said. “We’re a 100-plus year-old industry. Suddenly we’re unsafe?” Ricci continued to add that in the report, no one suggests that laundries pose a public health threat and in fact, many of the citations are taken from reports that state there is no health threat.
TRSA issued an Expanded Statement Regarding Proposed New York City Legislation that addresses the report and its 20 sourced footnotes in depth.
Ricci cites additional issues with the proposed bill. “If this passes, who will set the standards and what do they understand about the industry and how to inspect? The majority of customers in NY are not serviced by laundries in NY or they may not be in the state of NY. What do you do with Delaware laundries that serve New York?”
Other areas of concern Ricci voiced include enforcement and cost. With possibly 2000 trucks going in and out of the Big Apple daily, he questions the capabilities for surprise inspections. “What will that do to businesses and who’s going to pay for this?” he asks. “Ultimately it will be the customer with higher prices. That will also cost some jobs like most regulations do.”
As an industry that is currently governed by a myriad of guidelines, Ricci takes exception to the fact that the report, “ignores the fact that as an industry we’ve made strides on our own in safety, health and cleanliness.”
TRSA has certification programs currently in place. “Our program is one that validates the process that focuses on the outcome. Most laundries have their own processes, based on market, mix, equipment and geography. But best practices are the same so we have a testing protocol set. Six times a year we test the products from our certified businesses.”
TRSA’s voluntary certification programs are Hygienically Clean, Hygienically Clean Food Safety and Hygienically Clean Healthcare. All three TRSA certifications require testing to validate best practices for processing hygienically clean textiles.
Hygienically Clean certification ensures textile products laundered for industries across the economic spectrum meet key disinfection criteria.
Hygienically Clean Food Safety (HCFS) certification recognizes laundries serving the food manufacturing/processing industry. This process focuses on textiles cleaned in these facilities meeting appropriate hygienically clean standards and best management practices for servicing animal processing, dairies, fruit/vegetable, bakeries, grain and other food and beverage industry segments. Inspectors verify laundry practices including washing procedures drying, garment inspection and transportation.
Hygienically Clean Healthcare certification recognizes laundries serving the healthcare community. This process focuses on verifying textiles cleaned in these facilities meet hygienically clean standards and best management practices for hospitals, surgery centers, medical offices, nursing homes and other medical facilities. To attain certification a laundry must deploy best management practices (BMPs) and pass bacteriological testing and facility inspections.
In June, TRSA will be launching two new certification programs for restaurants – Hygienically Clean Food Service and Hygiencally Clean Hospitality. They programs vary ftom the others based on testing levels for clean and HACCP standards for hand hygiene and surface testing with the laundries.
HLAC, a non-profit organization formed for the purpose of inspecting and accrediting laundries processing healthcare textiles for hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. HLAC’s voluntary program accredits laundries processing healthcare textiles based on the highest standards for patient safety and infection prevention. Accreditation warrants that a laundry processing healthcare linens has passed several inspections and that the laundry has met HLAC Standards. The Standards are based on federal regulations and guidelines as well as best practices.
“We believe that accreditation is extremely important to a laundry and its customers, but we don’t take a stand on laws for local jurisdictions,” Gregory Gicewicz, HLAC president, said. “However, we do very much encourage all healthcare laundries to become accredited in the name of patient safety, worker safety and staff safety.”
HLAC accredited laundries receive formal recognition within the industry that they have passed independent inspections and meet high industry standards for processing healthcare textiles.
HLAC accredited laundry organizations demonstrate that the:
- Laundry Organization managers understand and follow key government mandates for handling, processing, and transporting healthcare textiles. In particular, the laundry organization is following OSHA’s Bloodborne Pathogens Standard to the letter.
- Laundry Organization is designed and maintained to provide for the health and safety of its personnel and that of the healthcare facility customer – the patient.
- Laundry Organization personnel, who handle healthcare textiles, are properly trained.
- Laundry Organization follows recommended “good industry practices” in its systems, policies, and procedures that will provide the consistent delivery of healthcare textiles in the quality and quantity expected by the customer.
- Laundry Organization is committed to excellence and challenging itself to meet the highest industry standards.
Gicewicz, who runs an HLAC accredited laundry in Olympia, Washington adds, “I can’t think of any reason why a healthcare laundry would not be accredited – and we can’t see why a hospital or healthcare institution or nursing home would not require accreditation for their launderer.”