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Front Line Safety Tips

Everyone is aware of how important safe working conditions are in a laundry facility. Productivity hinges on employee health and well-being. So how do you keep your facility safe? Laundry Today spoke to some of your contemporaries in the field who shared their 'front line' safety tips!
  1. "What we have found to be most effective in the area of safety is hands on management -- walking around the plant at all times and being aware of safety issues," said Peter Copelas of Peter's Laundry in Salem, Massachusetts. "We don't have a safety officer, it's everybody's responsibility. Most machines are built with safety aspects, whether interlock switches or machine guards and one of the most important things is not to overpass or allow those machine safety devices to become inoperable."

  2. "We have a safety committee, but you've got to keep talking about safety, and anytime you see somebody doing something unsafe, you have to remind them about the correct thing to do," says Jerry Thomas, of Illinois Laundry in Ottawa, Illinois. "We also have an awards program. There's a small monetary reward but if somebody doesn't have an accident over the course of a quarter we send them a certificate with an actual safety pin on it - we call it the Safety Pin award."

  3. "Our biggest thing is safety meetings because the more eyes that we have looking at unsafe conditions helps. We have the meetings once a week and usually around 20 production floor employees and management attend," says Rod Smiley of Nu-Way Cleaners in Pasa Robles, California. "We've found that it has helped to keep accidents down. The meetings cover everything that has to do with safety from lifting correctly to boxes that are stacked in the wrong place where people are walking by."

  4. "We train everyday, work smart and don't keep our hands where they don't belong," says Jeffery Buck at Apex Laundry in Gulf Port, Mississippi. "We communicate, pay attention and watch out for each other. If somebody comes up with a new process or new idea we'll give it a listen and change the process in a minute if it makes sense. We're alert to cause and effect around here."

  5. "We keep employees safe through an active safety committee which meets bi monthly," says Alan Fields of Merced Laundry in Merced, California. The committee is composed of employees who are rotated on and off the committee. "It keeps them involved and looking for unsafe situations. We also award employees every 90 days if there's no lost time due to a work related injury. The Vice President and management cook them a big lunch. We're cooking on a regular basis."

  6. "We follow all of OSAH's rules and regulations," said William Paine of Clean-O-Rama in Rochester, New York. "I make sure that our machinery is all working properly so that nobody is sticking fingers in a machine that's running when
    it's not supposed to be, and we eliminate all clutter from work areas because I find that with clutter around you're always tripping over laundry or carts. We keep our aisles really clean to save us from falling and getting injured."

  7. "Keeping a facility safe is a full time job," said Bob Berger, president of White Star Laundry in Hannibal, MO. "We do it mostly through training and trying to train people on the correct way to operate machinery. Using lockout tagout is a big part of our safety procedures. When repairs are being made we make sure the equipment is locked down so it can't be accidentally started. Everybody is trained on general safety environment and to be aware of safety issues. Then specifically for the people who operate the machinery we discuss each piece of machinery and how it is correctly operated. We value our employee's safety and it's probably one of the biggest things we do next to customer satisfaction."

  8. "I think the problem is that so many employers and employees take safety for granted or merely pay it lip service," said Tim Crawford, general manager of Alaska Cleaners in Anchorage, Alaska. "Most employers do not do a daily inspection of the premise, which is an OSHA requirement. We not only do a daily inspection, we do a monthly inspection where we have an 18-page check off list. We have different sheets for respiratory and lockout inspections, we check for belt guards and shaft guards, that equipment covers are in place and all equipment is labeled. Are covers on all J boxes and are J boxes free of holes? Are respirators in secured containers, is the eye wash working and are the sprinkler hats free of obstruction? We made our list based on what might occur and make sure it doesn't."

    "We have two semi-annual meetings with all employees where we review every one of our safety programs. We cover contamination, fire prevention, hazard communication - so they understand how to interpret a managerial safety data sheet - and make sure everyone is aware and understands a confined space policy and personal protective equipment, hazardous waste policies, fire exit locations, bio hazards and forklift rules."

    To keep people conscious on a daily basis we play Safety Bingo where everybody's got a bingo card and when there's no reportable incident a bingo number is drawn and the winner gets $100 cash. It's announced as today's safety bingo number. If there is an incident the game is wiped out and begins again. Safety pays."

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Textile Services Industry Gets National Spotlight

WILIMGTON, Mass. — Textile service executive Ronald Croatti recently appeared on the CBS-TV show “Undercover Boss.” Croatti is CEO of UniFirst Corp., in Wilmington, Mass. For most Americans watching “Undercover Boss” it was their first view inside a commercial laundry, which typically process between 10 million and 25 million pounds of uniforms, table linens, bed sheets, towels and more every year “The reusable textile services business is the original green industry,” said Ricci. “Commercial laundries reuse linen instead of filing landfills with disposable alternatives and continually discover new, innovative means to reduce energy consumption and recycle water. Our huge economies of scale allow laundries to use about two-thirds less water, energy and detergent than alternatives, such as washing at home, while hygienically cleaning textile products, improving disease control and reducing contamination.”