MISSION, Kan. – The Association for Linen Management (ALM) and the American Reusable Textile Association (ARTA) have launched a new campaign to combat the issue of healthcare linens disposed of as medical, or “Red Bag,” waste.
According to the two associations, “healthcare laundry operators estimate that over the course of a year, as much as 25% of their linen that is saturated with blood or bodily waste is disposed of as Red Bag waste.”
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, however, require such materials be placed in impermeable, soiled-linen bags.
“Essentially, [clients] are paying twice; paying to replace the linen, and paying 18 to 33 cents per pound to dispose of it as Red Bag waste,” say the organizations.
ALM and ARTA have requested that OSHA review the issue of “Red Bag” waste, and declare a Statement of Intent, which would clarify and affirm proper handling of saturated linen. ALM Executive Director Linda Fairbanks has been working with the Kentucky OSHA to secure the statement, and a request for review has been sent to Federal OSHA.
Both groups are expecting a response from OSHA later this summer.
In addition to their current efforts, ALM and ARTA will create a PR campaign to create awareness of the issue, and the potential for cost reductions if hospital policies comply with OSHA’s regulation.
“When we realized that both of our organizations were working on this issue, we decided to join forces,” says Fairbanks.
“This is a huge issue, and it makes good sense to combine our efforts,” says ARTA President Ed McCauley.