What is the true cost of lost work clothes?
9 January, 2019
Coordination between a textile service provider, chipped textiles and a smart textile logistics system is an excellent first-step in preventing the disappearance of textiles. But educating personnel about textile handling at your workplace is also of utmost importance.
Unfortunately, personnel are a big part of the problem with loss of textiles. Common causes of loss are:
Even if the above points happen unintentionally or if the intention is good, these habits ultimately cost money.
>> What is the true cost of lost work clothes?
Getting to the bottom of the loss problem will not be easy. Personnel are primarily focused on performing their duties. For example, in healthcare, they spend every day helping other people and saving lives. So, for example, making sure the new parents do not bring the baby blanket home from BB is probably not a priority issue for them.
In addition, there is a risk that the introduction of new policies and rules around this would be perceived as unnecessarily harsh. But even if it feels like an insurmountable task, there are ways to deal with the problems.
Surveys show that a system that tracks textiles down to the user level can reduce loss by up to 50%. The system itself has the advantage that administrators can keep track of the entire textile stock in real time, and thus avoid entire carts with textiles being forgotten in storage, or the like (indeed, this actually happens).
In addition, we see that textile users are more likely to handle textiles in the “right way” when they have a personal balance to be responsible for.
Several of the personnel may not even know that you have guidelines for handling textiles, or that you have a textile supplier as a partner. Take 20 minutes at regular intervals to educate them about the problem of textile loss and how it affects the environment when new textiles need to be manufactured. Inform them about your guidelines for handling textiles and infection control, and the risks that bringing work clothes home or storing them in their personal cabinets can entail. Feel free to give any incentive to participate in the education.
With a traceability system, it is possible to easily generate reports of use. A good method is to let department managers present the month’s loss in real numbers. This can be especially successful when comparing these numbers with other departments.
For example: “Last month, our department had 11% loss, compared to the rest of the business that had 10% loss. Shall we make sure to get under 9% next month?!”
In order to get your employees more involved in reducing their loss, you can consider holding some form of competition between the units and departments to see who can reduce their loss of textiles the most. Possibly offer cake, or otherwise give attention to those who stand out the most!
We know that the high tempo in the workplace can lead to mistakes being made. But even in stressful situations, you can reduce the risk that dirty garments will end up in the garbage instead of in the laundry sink by ensuring that all return stations and laundry bags are properly labelled. Feel free to place educational reminders in the form of posters around important places such as linen carts, textile stores, garbage cans and staff changing rooms.
Signs are also good tools for presenting concrete data, for example, loss in the workplace.
Remember that it takes time to break bad (textile) habits, so be patient and think long-term. Personnel can still accidentally throw away some extra dirty sheets, or a torn protective coat or accidentally bring work clothes home despite the fact that you actively work with preventive measures as above. Studies show that it can take anywhere from 18 days to 8 months to form a new habit!
But hopefully, with the help of these tips, encouragement and leading by example, you can reduce the loss of your textiles.
/ Sofia Stark