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Front Line Safety Tips

Workplace safety tips from industry experts.

Tip No. 1
"During my years in the textile and laundry industries I’ve had the opportunity to visit many facilities. One thing that struck me as very important for employers to stress to their employees is the importance of cooling down polyester and polyester blend fabrics before they are dumped from the dryer and left in baskets.

When the goods are not cooled down prior to being dumped, a potentially dangerous situation is created due to the possibility of spontaneous combustion. But it doesn’t have to be a dangerous situation. Reversing the dryers helps to cool down the goods – and there’s another benefit to this small step which can avert a fire. If the dryers are reversed while dumping the goods, the goods will also become untangled.

Another very important step to take to ensure your facility is safe – and stays safe – is to make sure that the proper attention is given to the maintenance of all laundry machines. This includes good housekeeping practices such as cleaning lint, another cause of laundry fires. All the safety features in the world won’t matter if the machine is not properly maintained and regularly cleaned."
– Ron Weinstein, President, Laundry Today.

Tip No. 2
"You need to be conscientious and think safety,” says Jerry Thomas, general manager, Illinois Laundry. “You can have all the procedures you want but if the people aren’t acting in a manner where they are thinking don’t get hurt - you’ll still have accidents. And the other part is that whenever you see someone acting unsafely you need to remind them right then. Safety is something that must permeate the whole facility.”

Tip No. 3
“We try to keep equipment all put together with the guards, instead of pieces being left off after they’ve been worked on ” says Keith Grimm, Grimm’s Dust Control and Linen in Rapid City, South Dakota. “Safety features on a machine tend to get discarded after a time and we get them back on even if you leave a side or back panel off.”

Tip No. 4
"We have a monthly safety committee meeting where we sit down with employees in a group setting and we discuss a different safety or health related topics,” says Thomas Finley, plant manager at Overall Laundry Service. The topics we cover range from safe lifting to lock out tag out procedures. The ten or fifteen minute talk helps keep everyone aware and keeps safety fresh in everybody’s mind.” .

Tip No. 5
“We have a common sense approach to safety. We tell everyone to use their heads,” says Ken Cornell, at Cornell Linen Systems. “We have our people working in teams of three and each team member looks out for the other guy. Not only for safety around equipment but also for heat exhaustion and those things. New hires never work alone in the plant – they work with existing team members to learn what there is to know from functions of each piece of equipment to safety procedures. We don’t allow lose fitting clothes, long necklaces, walkmans or things of that nature. Knock on wood, we’ve never had a huge injury but we’re set up with the local hospital for quick emergency treatment.”

Tip No. 6
“We have safety meetings once a month,” says Joel Jolicoeur, president of Kennebec Linen Service.
“Our main workman’s comp provides a lot of training videos and information on things like bloodborne pathogens and lifting. We keep our people aware and we’ve had no accidents this year. I attribute that to a good employee pool – we brought our wages up a little bit and that seems to help.”

Tip No. 7
“We have safety programs,” says Gary Hopkins, president at Diamond Cleaners in Flint, Michigan. “We review OSHA requirements, lock out tag out procedures and we train employees on our big ironers and presses so that they are careful and know how to operate them correctly. It’s an on-going training program. Whenever we have new employees we make sure that they follow correct procedures.”

Tip No. 8
“We make sure our employees know what to and what not to do,” says Randy Bratcher, president at Dove Linen Rental. “We make sure everybody knows where the fire hydrants are – we have two one in the front and one in the back, where all the safety stop buttons are located on the machines and we make sure everybody knows where the eyewash is. We also make sure that the sign over the eyewash that demonstrates how it’s used is not blocked and is in clear sight. We keep all MSD sheets for our chemicals on file and even though they’re not mandatory for our chemicals, we offer employees rubber gloves and face masks.”

Tip No. 9
“You’ve got to get your employees involved. Safety has to be a team effort,” says Eric Frederick, president of NAILM and executive director of health services at The Health Group of Alabama. “For every ninety days we go without a lost time accident we feed the employees lunch. We had three lost time accidents two years ago and when we started with the lunch, that number dropped. Last year we had one lost time accident. It’s a nice incentive. We’re always looking to make the plant a little safer. When we have an accident – any kind of accident - we do a follow up to find out what happened, why it happened, and how we can prevent it from happening again. And of course we have the challenge that both Spanish and English are spoken as primary languages so you have to make sure everybody gets the word. We pay some of our bilingual employees a bonus of 50 cents an hour to be interpreters so we make sure we communicate properly back and forth.”

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Lapauw Acquired By Private Investor

BELGIUM — Lapauw and its affiliate Lapauw France have been acquired by Mr. Philippe D’heygere for an undisclosed amount. The Belgian based manufacturer of industrial laundry equipment officially announced that it has recently sold its rights to Mr. Philippe D’heygere, a successful international entrepreneur with special interests in global expansion.

“I have worked with the Lapauw family for 46 years. Following my first meeting with the new owner, I feel very confident that this agreement will provide the experience and resources needed to expand into new markets and bolster support to our existing distributors and customers,” said Andre Henrard, Export Manager for the countries outside Europe. The current management will remain active and no personnel change is expected.

In a joint statement to their distributors, the Lapauw family announced “Mr. D’heygere has international expertise and will reinforce the position of the Lapauw Group as a successful worldwide leader of premier laundry equipment.”