As the pole vaulter sprints down the approach, straining to gain speed with every stride he takes, he sees the bar perched high atop the stanchions. He plants his pole, leaps, twists in midair and...
On a good day, if he’s feeling strong and the conditions are right, he’ll clear the bar with plenty of room to spare.
On a bad day – maybe it’s windy and raining – he’ll be off stride on his approach and fall woefully short of the mark.
But whether he clears that bar or not, the height he must attain when he begins his jump is unmistakable. He knows how high the standards are set and how he must perform in order to reach them.
So, what are some of the standards that apply to laundry operations and who sets them? Just how high is that bar?
It’s fairly common for positions in a laundry to have production standards.
In a Wire survey this spring, more than three-quarters of managers who responded said their laundry has established production standards that each employee must meet, but only 58.8% said they regularly make production data available to workers so they can compare their work to the standard.
Production standards are open to adjustment, and customer preference can contribute to the level at which they are set by virtue of the product quality the customer demands (or is willing to accept).
Laundries processing textiles for hospitals, nursing homes and other healthcare facilities face strict standards for the care and handling of soiled linens, particularly related to infection control, bloodborne pathogens and needlestick prevention.
Guidelines and recommendations are issued by organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Joint Commission and even the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Now, some laundries are utilizing the services of a unique nonprofit organization to confirm their ability to follow key government mandates for handling, processing and transporting healthcare textiles.
The Healthcare Laundry Accreditation Council (HLAC) was created in the spring of 2006 and to date has accredited some 34 laundries.
The organization is comprised of a 12-person board of directors with representatives from several leading industry associations related to healthcare and to laundry services.
A laundry can’t inspect and accredit itself, and its customers generally don’t have the time or expertise to perform a comprehensive inspection.
HLAC provides both the performance standards and the inspection and accreditation process necessary to demonstrate a laundry’s commitment, it says.
Its standards incorporate federal requirements and guidelines on the subject, the recommendations of several national organizations having a relationship with healthcare textile processing, and the best practices of professional service providers.
Its detailed program applies to all types of laundries: on-premise, cooperative and commercial.
Hospital Central Services Cooperative (HCSC) of Allentown, Pa., was HLAC-accredited this summer.
“As a large cooperative laundry with five processing plants, we felt that attaining accreditation was simply the right thing to do toward making us a stronger company,” says Bill Moyer, HCSC vice president of marketing and service, in an HLAC testimonial.
“Although we already take prudent measures to ensure the safety of our employees, as well as compliance with all regulatory agencies, becoming accredited sends a message of reassurance to both our customers and employees that we continue to be dedicated toward meeting or exceeding the highest industry standards.”
So, not only can these laundries ensure they – like the pole vaulter – have reached the standard, they can proudly show off what amounts to a gold medal.