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Design Considerations for Utility Rooms

Worksite Redesign Technical Advisory Project

  • An evaluation of group home utility rooms in either existing situations or new construction, must consider various risky activities staff are exposed to while performing work in these areas. These activities include:
    • Frequent moving, turning and lifting-often heavy lifting of mop buckets and wet laundry
    • Exposure to disease and infection
    • Handling of strong chemicals, disinfectants, cleaning products and laundry detergents
    • Exposure to bodily fluids and contaminated/soiled laundry
    • Processing and storage of both clean and soiled laundry
  • Utility rooms in group homes with medically fragile, incontinent, or non-ambulatory residents often approach commercial-grade use. Providing adequate space to carry out needed functions without impediments to work-flow areas is vitally important to worker safety. Plan for and equip utility rooms by anticipating resident needs both now and in the foreseeable future.
  • Provide for:
    • Room for sorting and storage of both clean and soiled laundry
    • Adequate storage for hampers, buckets and cleaning supplies
    • Locked storage for cleaning chemicals
    • Appliances such as Clini-sinks with flushometer valves or mop sinks with 3" drains if needed
    • Fixtures designed for needed care services and treatments
    • Well lit and ventilated space
    • Adjustable shelving to allow stored items to be placed for correct lifting techniques
    • Work and floor surfaces made of easily cleaned and maintained materials

Dean Avenue
  • Window provides natural light and ventilation
  • Adjustable shelving for light-weight objects
  • Laundry tray for domestic use
  • Clini-sink equipped with flushometer valve and 4" drain for peri-care
  • Walls, floors, counters easily cleaned and disinfected
  • Cabinets and countertops made of plastic laminate
  • Wall finishes are high-gloss oil enamel for easy cleaning
  • Two heavy-duty washers and dryers selected to meet resident needs
  • Adequate space for movement and turning

  • Pair of 2-bulb 4' florescent lights provide good room illumination
  • Fold-down table and built-in pass-through facilitate folding and distribution of clean laundry
  • 36" door with lockable hardware provides good, wide access to room and entry control
  • Locked cabinet hardware provides secure storage
  • Printed instructions posted at fixtures provide user instructions
  • Operable window and 200 cfn exhaust fan provide adequate ventilation
  • VCT or sheet vinyl floors finished with non-skid wax
Before Improvement

  • Inadequate storage and room organization
  • No system for handling the clean and soiled laundry
  • Inaccessibility and congestion don't allow space for movement and turning


After Redesign

  • The same utility is improved by the addition of bins and a system for handling the laundry
  • Floor area is clear, allowing for improved access to fixtures, passage to office, and more space for movement and turning
  • Overhead locked storage is now accessible
  • Re-light window in the upper left allows a view of the kitchen


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  • Utility area located in a kitchen creates an unsanitary situation
  • Space doubles as a recordkeeping and storage area which is inappropriate where soiled laundry is processed
  • Utility area could be improved by installing a front-loading washer, and adding a countertop and locked storage for cleaning supplies

R Street
  • Accordion doors separate the laundry from the kitchen to reduce noise and add privacy
  • Space has locked storage above the appliances
  • Front-loading washer would allow for countertop space

  • Inadequate space for proper movement and turning
  • Space between the dryer and freezer is not adequate for bending and stooping
  • Additional shelving and locked storage needed

North A Street

  • Front-loading washer would allow for countertop space
  • Provide storage and laundry-handling plan
  • Shelving and locked storage could improve safe operation of this laundry

Martha Court

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  • Recessed storage area well designed to accommodate household needs

River Road
  • Design provides ample locked storage for this home
  • Use of a laundry area for office space and recordkeeping is unsanitary and a poor alternative. Separate office functions from areas subject to contamination

Pioneer Pike
  • Space well-designed for laundry storage and handling
  • Front-loading machines provide a working countertop area
  • Clear, unobstructed path to the machines

Front-loading laundry appliances allow for work surface above the units


48th Street
  • Vertical storage space allows for distribution of clean linens out of cabinet doors in the hallway
  • Well organized room-equipped with ample storage and a folding table positioned in the room to save steps
  • Built-in furniture conserves floor space, and reduces possibility of tripping


Good Shelf

Bad Shelf

Santa Clara Avenue
  • Adequate locked storage is provided overhead
  • Alcove design allows the floor area to remain open

Dean Avenue
  • Window provides natural light and ventilation
  • Top-loading machines are the best choice in this configuration because of limited floor space

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  • Pass-through cabinet adjacent to the hallway allows for easy passage and extra storage of clean laundry
  • Items such as fold-down tables provide a work area for employees

  • Creative use of space for storage
  • Vertical storage design allows for excellent distribution of clean laundry and linen to the hallway
  • This type of storage allows for visibility, good air circulation, diffusion of light and economy of movement
  • Heavy boxes and storage items need to be stored between knee and chest height for safe lifting. Locate lighter items at shoulder level and floor level. Avoid any storage over shoulder height as the person is unable to view the item and proper lifting of the item would require a ladder or lift. Once an employee is off the floor there is a greater opportunity for accidents

  • Laundry may be passed directly from the adjacent bathroom and provides creative step-savings for staff


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