Anyone who works in their company in accordance with a hygiene management system in accordance with DIN EN 14065 is already on the safe side. All regulatory requirements for hygiene applicable in Germany are covered by this.

Anyone who has not yet introduced the standard will be concerned – in connection with the risks posed by the corona virus – about the safety of their employees and how they can reliably serve their customers – above all from the health, care and hospitality sectors can ensure hygienic products.

In the following information paper, we have compiled both binding hygiene regulations and proven recommendations for companies in the textile services industry. Since the incubation period for the coronavirus is very long, the recommendations also apply in principle to the treatment of laundry that has come into contact with potentially infected people. Under certain circumstances, this can also be the case in the catering and hotel industry.

In the introduction, we would like to point out again that simple measures such as washing hands more often with soap (at least 30 seconds), not sneezing at other people directly, avoid shaking hands, not touching eyes and mouth with your hands, significantly reducing the risk of infection.

In addition, the DTV is currently in contact with the crisis department of the Federal Ministry of Health in order to draw attention to the significance of the industry for the health care system and other areas and to avoid excessive regulatory orders to close the company. We are also committed to a priority delivery of disinfectants and protective equipment.

The corona virus may present companies in the textile services industry with economic and / or labor law challenges – namely, where illnesses lead to bottlenecks. We will shortly be publishing a separate circular on this topic.

Content

  • Summary
  • Infection routes
  • How do I ensure that my employees are protected as best as possible against infection with the corona virus?
    • Risk assessment
    • Personal protective measures
  • How do I ensure that laundry that I deliver to my customer meets the hygienic requirements right now?
  • What are the main sources of recommendations for treating laundry to reduce the risk of infection?

Summary

Coronavirus transmissions appear to occur particularly when there is close, unprotected contact between people. However, indirect transmission paths are particularly relevant for our industry. We have put together recommendations for how you can best meet this challenge:

Above all, we recommend:

  • Special containers for infected laundry, pre-sorting by the customer
  • Consistent separation of unclean and clean work areas
  • Disinfection of frequently visited locations (list of disinfectants tested and recognized by the RKI
  • Disinfection of frequently touched surfaces
  • Provision and use of a donor with virus-effective disinfectant of category B (virucidal) from the list of disinfectants of the RKI
  • Use of the disinfectant also by guests, suppliers, postmen, etc.
  • Water repellent smocks
  • Liquid tight aprons
  • protective gloves
  • headgear
  • Frequent and thorough hand washing, both at the customer and in the company
  • Hand disinfection, at the customer as well as in the company (list of disinfectants tested and recognized by the RKI
  • Respirators

Hygienic laundry preparation can be guaranteed by using disinfectant washing methods according to the RKI and VAH list. The corona virus is not considered to be “highly infectious” and can therefore be subjected to a disinfectant washing process with effective area B (killing / inactivating viruses).

After the washing process has been completed, the clean laundry must be transported and stored in such a way that recontamination is avoided. For textile cleaning companies, this means a consistent separation of the impure and the clean side in the preparation process.

Infection routes

Transmissions seem to occur especially in the case of close (e.g. home or medical care), unprotected contact between people. Coughing and sneezing in particular, as well as certain medical measures associated with aerosol formation (e.g. bronchoscopy), are considered infection routes. Indirect transmission paths are particularly relevant for our industry. There is a risk for employees to come into contact with infected laundry or contaminated surfaces. It is not yet clear how long the virus can survive on inanimate surfaces. In some cases, the virus was still detectable on metallic surfaces after 9 days.

Laundry that is at risk of infection occurs primarily where it came into contact with body fluids. This is e.g. in institutions for medical examination, treatment and care of people.

The risk of infection must be assessed individually by each company depending on the origin of the laundry and measures must be taken accordingly. This is done in consultation with the customer, who may presort the laundry.

Basically, the following applies: Activities with a risk of infection include collecting, picking up, transporting and unloading used laundry, loading washing machines and doing maintenance or repair work on the dirty side.

Infection can occur through the penetration of pathogens through intact skin or mucous membranes or through food intake with insufficient hand hygiene. Objects or medical instruments left behind in the wash can also adhere to pathogens or body secretions.

[Recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute on hygiene measures in the context of the treatment of patients with an infection by SARS-CoV-2, as of March 5, 2020].

How do I ensure that my employees are protected as best as possible against infection with the coronavirus?

Risk Assessment

Taking into account the specific requirements of the Biological Substances Ordinance (Instructions for Action TRBA 400 “Instructions for hazard assessment and for informing employees of biological agents”), the company management has already carried out a hazard assessment for the cleaning company (according to the Occupational Health and Safety Act).

The risk assessment is the basis for determining how exposures can be avoided or – if this is not possible – reduced, which safe working methods have to be used and which measures have to be taken to control unavoidable exposures.

In connection with infection risks, the most important part of the risk assessment is the hygiene plan. This regulates cleaning, disinfection and possibly sterilization as well as supply and disposal.

In addition, the DTV recommends i.H. on the coronavirus:

  • Consultation with the customer about risks and measures
  • Special containers for infected laundry, pre-sorting by the customer
  • Consistent separation of unclean and clean work areas
  • Disinfection of frequently visited locations (list of disinfectants tested and recognized by the RKI
  • Disinfection of frequently touched surfaces
  • Provision and use of a donor with virus-effective disinfectant of category B (virucidal) from the list of disinfectants of the RKI
  • Use of the disinfectant also by guests, suppliers, postmen, etc.

Personal protective measures

In acute risk situations, in addition to long-term measures (e.g. organizational or structural), possible personal measures must also be implemented at short notice.

Personal protective equipment must be made available to those who process dirty laundry, e.g.:

  • Water repellent smocks
  • Liquid tight aprons
  • protective gloves
  • headgear

Where there is an acute risk of infection, the DTV also recommends:

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing, both at the customer and in the company
  • Hand disinfection, at the customer as well as in the company (list of disinfectants tested and recognized by the RKI
  • Respirators

The protective equipment must be removed when leaving the work area. Break and standby rooms may not be entered with work clothing contaminated with microbes. The protective clothing of people who handle used laundry should be color-coded differently from the other work clothes. Closed sturdy shoes should be worn.

Hygienic hand disinfection (list of disinfectants tested and recognized by the RKI, must be carried out before leaving the work area after contact with potentially infectious materials or surfaces or removing the protective gloves.

For activities that require hygienic hand disinfection, hands and forearms may e.g. B. no jewelry, rings, including wedding rings, wristwatches, piercings, artificial fingernails and so-called friendship bracelets are worn. Fingernails should be cut short and round and should not protrude above the fingertip.

Respiratory protection may be an additional personal protective measure after all other technical and organizational measures have been exhausted. [Quellen: DGUV Information 203-084, Umgang mit Wäsche aus Bereichen mit erhöhter Infektionsgefährdung“, DTV-Website]

How do I make sure that the laundry that I deliver to my customers, right now, meets the hygienic requirements?

Infection agents can be transmitted to both patients and staff via laundry.

Used and contaminated laundry must be collected and transported in the medical facility in such a way that there is no risk of infection or contamination. It should be collected directly in the work area in sufficiently robust and dense and clearly labeled containers. With tight containers are meant germ-proof sacks. Hospital linen is collected in polyethylene bags of at least 0.08 mm film thickness or in textile bags made of a material of at least 220 g / m². The requirement for tightness includes that soaked laundry may only be accepted, transported and stored in liquid-tight containers. In this case, these are the PE bags.

Coordination of the correct collection and labeling is required between the customer who launches the laundry and the laundry.

Hygienic laundry preparation can be guaranteed by using disinfectant washing methods according to the RKI and VAH list. The corona virus is not considered to be “highly infectious” and can therefore be subjected to a disinfectant washing process with effective area B (killing / inactivating viruses).

After the washing process has been completed, the clean laundry must be transported and stored in such a way that recontamination is avoided. For textile cleaning companies, this means a consistent separation of the impure and the clean side in the preparation process.

With chemical cleaning, virucidal disinfection is not possible / verifiable. For this reason, the usual hygiene measures (surface disinfection, hand washing) should be used here.

[Quelle: Infektionsprävention im Rahmen der Pflege und Behandlung von Patienten mit übertragbaren Krankheiten Empfehlung der Kommission für Krankenhaushygiene und Infektionsprävention beim RKI (RKI, Bundesgesundheitsblatt 2015, 09/ 2015) (KRINKO)]

What are the main sources of recommendations for treating laundry to reduce the risk of infection?