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Textile Services’ Workplace Safety Continues To Improve

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Recordable injuries and illnesses in Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) member workplaces were reduced 17 percent from 2008 to 2009 according to the annual TRSA Textile Services Industry Safety Report.

Read more: Textile Services’ Workplace Safety Continues To Improve

Understanding Lockout/Tagout And Its Importance

The OSHA Lockout/Tagout standard covers the servicing and maintaining of all of your equipment where there could be an unexpected start-up or cycling of the equipment or a release of stored energy that could cause injury to your employees.

OSHA defines the locking out of a piece of equipment as the act of placing a lock and lockout device on an energy isolating device to prevent energizing the equipment being worked on. But are we just talking about electrical energy?No we are not.Your Lockout/Tagout program must include hydraulic and pneumatic power, stored energy in springs, capacitors and gravity, natural gas/propane, steam, liquids and any other source of energy that can cause an action to a piece of equipment or machine that in turn could injure an employee.(Remember to ground out capacitors per manufacturers instructions so that a piece of equipment does not cycle after it has been locked and tagged out due to stored energy.)

The A, B, C’s of Lockout/Tagout
What does a Lockout/Tagout program consist of you ask?First of all, it must be a written program that has machine specific energy control procedures for all of the equipment in your facility.It must include the following 3-levels of training: awareness for employees who do not perform the lock/tagout procedures; machine specific and hands-on (Periodic Inspection) training for the employees who perform the actual lockout/tagout procedures.

Your written program procedures must include a statement of intent, specific steps for shutting down, isolating, blocking, and securing equipment from the hazardous energy, placement, removal, and transfer of lockout devices, give responsibilities or ownership to individuals, requirements for testing the equipment to make sure the lockout/tagout is effective, and have a method to document each lockout/tagout event.

By stature, employers must supply all the hardware necessary for an effective program, cost free to the employees.So open up your pocket books folks.You will be filling your Lockout/Tagout kits with many locks (with no 2 locks keyed alike), lockouts, chains, various sized ball and gate valves, lockout devices, self-locking fasteners, tags, plug lockouts (used while repairing sewing machines and any other piece of equipment that is energized by a plug), jacks, stanchions, etc.Locks must be dedicated to the program.That is right, you can not take a lock off a tool box the use it to lock out a piece of equipment.
It should be noted that the Lockout/Tagout standard is what is called a Performance standard.This means that the employer has some latitude and flexibility with the program.The bottom line is you must ensure your employees are safe at all times.

Exceptions to the Rule
You do not have to comply with the standard during normal operations unless a guard is removed, a safety device is bypassed, or an employee must place a tool or part of their body into equipment where the work is actually performed (call the point of operation) or into a machine cycle danger zone.As with all rules, there are exceptions.You do not have to comply with the standard during troubling shooting providing the trouble shooter is a qualified individual and is not placing her/himself into danger.The same goes for making minor adjustments that can only be made with the equipment energized.However, when possible, try to stay away from exceptions because employees have been known to use exceptions as a license to work in a less-than-safe environment.
When should you use a tag?Always place a tag with the lock.If the nearest energy disconnect is out of site of the control panel of the equipment, place a second tag on the equipment control panel on/off button.

Using the conservative approach, there should be a management lock on the lockout device that stays on the lockout until the job is complete.This insures continuity of safety until the completion of the job.The employees’ locks are removed once they are done for the day or are reassigned.This ensures coverage during shift changes or multiple employer activities.

All employees must be given awareness training prior to beginning their employment with you.Authorized employees need 2 additional types of training, Machine Specific Lockout/Tagout and Periodic Inspection training.Periodic Inspection is an annual event conducted to make sure that no equipment or engineering changes affected the validity of your procedures.After you have reviewed the procedures for each piece of equipment and made any necessary changes, you must then review the written procedures with all authorized employees and observe them performing an actual lockout/tagout event.Remember to document all training.

Well, that‘s all the time I have this issue.Have a safe month!

Loss Control and Facility Accidents

 A good loss control program focuses on hazards your employees encounter every workday, their effects, and ways to control them. I know that some of you will tell me that you have done a good job at controlling recognized hazards, and you probably have. However, there are dangerous situations in your facility that will not rear their ugly heads until something else forces the conditions to surface.

Read more: Loss Control and Facility Accidents

Workplace Violence

Given the tragic events that took place in the United States and continue unfolding worldwide, I thought it prudent to address the different types of violence found in the workplace – and how they should be properly handled.

Violence in the Workplace
Violence in the workplace is defined as any and all intentional behavior or conduct that occurs on the facility’s premises that affects or could affect the safety or well being of any employee, visitor or operation. It does not have to be initiated by an employee:

Workplace violence includes any of the following:

  • Threatening communication - verbal, written and/or electronic
  • Physical injury or potential physical harm to another person
  • An aggressive or hostile action which creates a reasonable fear of injury to employees, or subjects employees to emotion distress
  • Intentional damage to property and/or the property of an employee or visitor
  • A person possessing and threatening to use weapons
  • A harmful or potentially harmful action motivated by or related to sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, marital status, political beliefs, age, physical or mental disabilities, or domestic situation.

There are three general classifications of workplace violence. They consist of a situation that is immediate and harmful, one that is not immediate but harmful, and a situation that is of genuine concern.

Immediate and Harmful
Situations that are immediate and harmful can include a terminated employee physically threatening his/her supervisor; a threat from a domestic partner or an employee threatening another employee with a weapon. Any object that an individual can use to cause harm to another individual is considered a weapon.

If immediate and harmful behavior is observed, learned or reported there are several actions to take. First, call 911 to notify the police of the situation and inform key managers of the situation. Then take appropriate steps to protect employees, visitors and property. In multi-plant operations, senior management must be notified – after employees are safe. Finally, don’t forget your record keeping. Make note of persons involved, others who may have information, the nature of the threat, when the threat was made, any action taken by involved parties, the cause of the threat, the potential that the threat will be carried out, where the event may occur and any other information that may help investigate the situation.

Note: It would be in your best interest to have preprinted forms listing these items to help your management team remember what information is important to obtain and to have a place to document that information.

Not Immediate But Could Be Harmful
The second type of situation is one that is not immediate but could be harmful. Examples of these types of situations include a threat received via U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, voice or e-mail; an employee who is the target of harassment due to race, sexual orientation or gender; and intentional or criminal related property damage.

If behavior or conduct is observed, learned or reported and is considered to be not immediate but could be harmful, the following actions should be taken. After calling 911 to notify the police, notify the key manager of the situation and anyone outside the immediate facility who should be informed. Depending on the situation, appropriate steps should be taken to protect employees, visitors and property. Finally, the record keeping information discussed above should be recorded.

Genuine Concern
Last but not least are genuine concern situations. These situations include an employee discussing his/her displeasure about his/her supervisor in an unreasonable and hostile manner or an employee’s demeanor or attitude that is radically abnormal and affecting co-workers.

For situations of genuine concern, key managers should be notified immediately and appropriate steps should be taken to protect employees, visitors and property. In a multi-plant operation, senior management should be notified after employees are safe. Finally, a record keeping form with information regarding the incident should be completed.

Although post-incident responses to an incident may vary, the following steps should always be taken. All personnel should be made aware of the incident and ensured that management is taking appropriate steps. The facility should be secured and reasonably protected, and if the situation warrants, professional security guards or police services should be enlisted. Depending on the situation, it may be time to activate an Employee Assistance Program since some employees may need counseling. Remember, when communicating with local media outlets maintain as positive a manner as possible. As part of the investigation, take photographs, and secure evidence for your insurance company.

Note: The police should secure evidence related to a criminal investigation. Finally, assess your ability to resume normal operations. If your situation or current condition of operations will affect your customers, let them know what to expect from your company.

As a preventative measure, it would be advisable to conduct a security survey of your facility to assess the current state of your security system. The money spent making improvements where necessary would bring peace-of-mind to both you and your employees. Having a secure facility is the first step in preventing violence in the workplace.

Have a safe month!

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!

Read more: Front Line Safety Tips

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  1. Front Line Safety Tips

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Ecolab Acquires Dober Chemical’S Textile Care Business

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ecolab Inc. a leader in cleaning, sanitizing, food safety and infection prevention products and services announced it has purchased the commercial laundry division of Dober Chemical Corporation. The acquisition includes Dober’s laundry chemical and waste water treatment and Ultrax dispensing businesses as well as an exclusive partnership to market and provide key components of its Spindle monitoring software.

“Dober is respected throughout the industry for its innovative monitoring technology, product chemistry and commitment to service – qualities that complement our own strengths at Ecolab,” said Brian Henke, vice president and general manager, Ecolab Textile Care North America. “As we expand our North American commercial laundry business, innovation and service excellence will continue to be our top priority as we partner with our customers to deliver unsurpassed value to run their operations more efficiently, sustainably and cost effectively.”

“Ecolab and Dober share the same customercentric approach to service and innovative technology,” said John Dobrez, president Dober Chemical Corp. “This is an exciting development because it builds on the strengths of both companies to move the industry forward.”

Through this agreement, Spindle Technologies,a division of Dober, is forming a strategic alliance with Ecolab Textile Care in an exclusive licensing agreement for its ChemWatch Software technology and the OPTRAX Utility Module.

“There will be no movement of people as they currently all operate remotely,” said Henke. “The Dober leadership team is very skilled and respected in the industry. We plan to have them as part of the team moving forward. During the transition, both businesses will operate as usual and we do not expect there to be any changes in the service the customers are used to receiving.”