ELMORE, Ala. — On-premises laundries have unique challenges and concerns.
But how about when those “premises” are scattered across an entire state?
That’s what Michael Arnold and the laundry staff with the Alabama Department of Corrections (ADOC) face every day.
Arnold, laundry coordinator for ADOC, has to ensure staff is fully prepared, that supplies are fully stocked and that the inmates’ laundry from all of the facilities is processed—and that quality of the goods is maintained.
American Laundry News recently had a chance to ask Arnold about ADOC’s laundry operations and how he and the staff keep it all working properly.
In Part 1, Arnold shared about the DOC’s laundry operations. In the conclusion, he talks challenges and successes.
What challenges has the system’s laundry service faced in recent years, and how have you overcome them?
COVID-19 has probably been our biggest challenge, as you can imagine. The disease impacted our entire system in many unpredictable ways. For us, not knowing if the virus is present on the garments we’re handling means that our employees must take extra safety precautions at all times.
After almost a year of operating this way, it can be exhausting. However, we have a small staff, so it is important we keep everyone healthy to run at full capacity. Everyone is committed to making sure we do whatever we can to prevent the spread of the disease.
How has COVID-19 affected laundry operations?
Certainly, many new safety procedures have been implemented with the onset of COVID-19. All workers wear gloves and masks. Bleach spray is utilized to routinely clean and disinfect equipment.
ADOC’s laundry services have had similar contagion-related challenges to overcome in the past, so our process of adapting to COVID-19 was not a “from the ground up” proposition. We took our existing biosecurity protocols and modified them appropriately for COVID-19.
What have been some of your laundries’ greatest successes? How were those achieved?
One of the successes is the annual training of the laundry staff. It is essential to maintain staff that is trained and knowledgeable about laundry, laundry processes and the machinery.
Laundry staff for every facility gathers for annual training, which is followed by one-on-one training at the facility. The annual training engagement ensures that our staff meet and know each other. This enables them to call on one another to share their insight.
Also, receiving scales to weigh our clothing prior to washing is counted as a great achievement as we continue to steadily make strides to improve our laundry process.
Is there anything else you’d like to share regarding the system’s laundry operations?
As I mentioned last time, ADOC implemented annual training for laundry workers and established strong vendor relationships with Commercial & Coin Laundry Equipment Co. (CLEC), which serves the southern half of the state, and Southeastern Laundry, which serves the northern half of the state.
ADOC has also made the decision to change the color of inmate uniforms from white to tan to reduce the dingy appearance the white uniforms endure after repeated wash and wear.
Finally, I have to talk about our team. I’m proud of the laundry staff’s commitment to this important service for the department. Laundry is an essential function, and the task at hand is huge.
Our entire team takes pride in keeping things running smoothly and efficiently because it helps keep the department running smoothly and efficiently.
Miss Part 1 on how the ADOC laundry operates? Click HERE to read it!