Ergonomics: Laundry

Ergonomics: Guidelines for Nursing Homes

The following examples are possible ergonomic solutions for nursing home workers responsible for laundry tasks.

Linen Carts

linen carts

Description:Spring loaded carts that automatically bring linen within easy reach

When to Use: Moving or storing linen.

Points to Remember: Speeds process for handling linen, and reduces wear on linen due to excessive pulling. Select a spring tension that is appropriate for the weight of the load. Carts should have wheel locks and height-appropriate handles that can swing out of the way. Heavy carts should have brakes.

Handling Bags

handling bags

Description: Equipment and practices for handling bags

When to Use: When handling laundry, trash and other bags.

Points to Remember: Reduces risk of items being dropped, and speeds process for removing and disposing of items. Receptacles that hold bags of laundry or trash should have side openings that keep the bags within easy reach and allow employees to slide the bag off the cart without lifting. Provide handles to decrease the strain of handling. Chutes and dumpsters should be positioned to minimize lifting. It is best to lower the dumpster or chute rather than lift materials to higher levels. Provide automatic opening or hardware to keep doors open to minimize twisting and awkward handling.

Loading or Unloading Laundry

load and unload laundry

Description: Front-loading washers and dryers

When to Use: When loading or unloading laundry from washers, dryers and other laundry equipment.

Points to Remember: Speeds process for retrieving and placing items, and minimizes wear-and-tear on linen. Washers with tumbling cycles separate clothes, making removal easier. For deep tubs, a rake with long or extendable handle can be used to pull linen closer to the door opening. Raise machines so that opening is between hip and elbow height of employees. If using top loading washers, work practices that reduce risk include handling small loads of laundry, handling only a few items at a time, and bracing your body against the front of the machine when lifting. If items are knotted in the machine, brace with one hand while using the other to gently pull the items free. Ensure that items go into a cart rather than picking up baskets of soiled linen or wet laundry.

Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)
200 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20210

Updated on: 12/10/09
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