As businesses continue adapting to hazards related to resumed operations during COVID-19, certain hourly workforce practices that were once considered common place are being called into question. Practices such as having employees share work uniforms and infrequently laundering aprons, vests, and other PPE are now considered unsafe practices that can increase the risk of spreading coronavirus amongst employees.
Due to this fact, heightened sanitation requirements have become necessary to protect employees from infection and uphold CDC guidelines. Let’s discuss some of the obligations you have towards disinfecting employee uniforms, as well as some ways to increase your ease around this process for your hourly, distributed workforce.
Compliance Obligations for Cleaning Uniforms
It’s important that you are clear on your operation’s Occupational Safety Health Administration (OSHA) obligations and state-specific requirements related to cleaning and repairing employee uniforms during COVID-19. In regards to OSHA, employers are required to create and train employees on SOPs for cleaning PPE and follow applicable requirements of the Bloodborne Pathogens standard for laundering uniforms contaminated by human blood, body fluids, or other infectious substances.
In addition to this, employers need to be prepared for potential claims related to employee reimbursement for time spent on extra laundering practices depending on the your state. Under California law, for instance, employers must pay for or reimburse non-exempt employees for all costs related to caring for uniforms in excess of normal laundry habits. This differs from federal law, which generally allows employers to place the responsibility of cleaning uniforms in the hands of employees, so long as minimum wage thresholds continue to be met. Make sure to check your state and local legislation relating to uniform cleaning.
Tips for Keeping Employee Uniforms Clean
Now that uniform items are getting cleaned daily to guard against COVID transmission, sharing uniforms has become a thing of the past. However, keeping up with regular, aggressive laundering habits can be a challenge when you’re dealing with hourly, distributed labor.
Here are some recommendations for keeping employee uniforms clean during the pandemic:
- Allow employees to wash uniforms at worksites: Allowing your workers to change into clean uniforms at the beginning of shifts and launder them before leaving at the end of each day allows them to isolate potentially contaminated clothing items to single locations and, therefore, contain the spread of COVID-19 more effectively. For many, this option can also reduce cost and employee burden as well.
- Distribute proper CDC guidelines: Whether your employees will be required to wash uniforms at worksites, home, or other prescribed facility- make sure you have done your due diligence providing CDC laundry guidelines for minimizing the risk of virus transmissions while handling clothing. Post instructions throughout your worksites and reinforce policies by offering trainings. *The CDC cautions against having employees handle laundry from people who could be infected and to wear gloves at all times when handling these tasks. See this list of effective cleaning agents for insight on which detergents combat COVID-19.
- Provide employees with multiples of required clothing items: Chances are, most of your employees need to wear and clean a new uniform every day. Providing extra items from their uniforms or for your employees to rotate through can reduce the burden of keeping uniforms clean and increase the likelihood of each employee successfully complying with your prescribed disinfecting processes.
- Partner with a qualified laundering service: Taking on the responsibility of making sure your employees’ uniforms are clean by partnering with a laundering service allows you greater control over preventing COVID-19 infections within your workforce. It can also benefit employee morale and help minimize the amount of time spent on laundering processes during the work day so employees can focus on their role.
Regardless of how you choose to clean your workforce’s uniforms, make sure you’ve crafted a solid employee handbook policy for addressing this issue fully.
Addressing Uniforms with HR Solutions
Procedures for cleaning uniforms and disinfecting PPE are just two of the many new policies you will need in your employee handbook when addressing COVID-19. That’s why EPAY made adding in new, compliant policies easier than ever with our Human Capital Management solution’s HR Management component.
In addition to our COVID Resource Page, we put out downloadable assets and weekly blogs which offer expert help crafting compliant policies for your unique hourly, distributed workforce needs. Download our Free Employee Handbook and request a demo today!