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Eyes Wide Open

Laundry management team members walk miles per day in their laundry facilities. Their eyes are constantly moving, seeking snapshots. What kind of information are they looking for you ask? The majority of managers are looking at quality and productivity, or for a specific customer’s product. These team members repeat this snapshot process day after day. Why?

Because they know that the pictures they see affect the bottom line. Unfortunately, the well meaning and dedicated managers are receiving an incomplete picture. They have forgotten to include “safety” in their viewfinder. Safety goes hand-in-hand with quality and productivity. Leave out one element of this triad and the others will suffer. That’s right, you will experience better quality and productivity if safety is interwoven into your organization’s culture.

To help you develop a safety culture and better focus your safety viewfinder, I am going to give you some checklist items that are found in all laundries.

AISLES
Do they exist? All facilities must have clearly recognizable aisles to direct employees from their departments to exits, restrooms, lunchrooms, the time clock, and the office. The easiest way to make aisles recognizable is to mark their edges with traffic paint or tape.

How wide should they be? If you routinely have carts or forklifts traveling in an aisle, it must be wide enough to accommodate the material handling equipment. Let your traffic flow dictate the width of your aisles. Aisles shall not be narrower then 28 inches in low foot traffic areas.

Are they clear? Aisles must be kept clear at all times. This means the you can not use aisles to store hampers containing in-process product.

Can you have rails crossing over aisles? Yes, but only the following are true: The rails are at least 7 feet above the aisle floor surface; no product is stored below the 7 foot mark; rails less than 7 feet from the floor are temporarily bridged over the aisles when you need to move the product from one side to the other.

EXIT SIGNS
Readily visible exit signs are required to be posted over exit doors. Arrowed exit signs shall be posted at each change-of-direction in the aisle.Do the signs have to be electrified? That depends on your local codes. The federal OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standard requires that the signs be illuminated by a reliable source giving a value of not less than 5 foot-candles of illumination on the sign surface.

Are light bulbs burnt out in any of you signs? Typical signs have four light bulbs. That is right, four. Two light bulbs remain illuminated 24-hours, 7-days per week. The other two bulbs will only illuminate if you loose power or when you press the “Test” button. (The exit signs should be tested on the monthly basis, along with the Emergency Lights, etc.) A burnt out light bulb must be changed immediately.

EMERGENCY EYEWASH AND SHOWER
Where would an eyewash or combination eyewash and shower be needed? An eyewash would be needed where hazardous chemicals are present in very small quantities. Large quantities, (quantities sufficient to contaminate your body), would require the presence of an eyewash and shower. A typical laundry has three areas that contain chemical hazards, the wash alley, the boiler room and the wastewater room. If these three areas are distinctly separate, three units would be required. If two areas are in very close proximity, (15 to 20 feet apart, without obstacles) you can get away with sharing one unit.

Are the units accessible? The pathway to the units must be free and clear at all times. Do not store anything in front of them.
Do not use an eyewash for a hand wash basin. Soap residue could end up in the eyes of a person using it for its intended purpose. Do not allow employees to mount a hand soap dispenser near an eyewash.

The eyewash water should be run, at a minimum, once a week to make sure that the water is free of rust. The frequency at your facility is dependent on local water and pipe system conditions. Check to make sure someone has not shut off the water feed valve. If you find the water feed valve shut off, lock the valve in the “on” position Check the water flow while washers are calling for water. You may need to run separate water feed lines to the eyewash and shower if the flow is inefficient.

FIRE EXTINGUISHERS
Where do you place extinguishers? NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) recommends a uniform placement of fire extinguishers throughout your facility, with a maximum of 150 feet from each other. They should also be mounts near exit doors. Do not mount any in an area where a person retrieving it could become trapped in a fire.

Make sure the extinguishers are accessible and are not covered. This means that a fire extinguisher can not be used as an apron or faceshield holder.

Check the fire extinguisher tag to verify that the extinguishers are being checked monthly by an employee and annually by your fire extinguisher service organization.

HOUSEKEEPING
Your housekeeping is a reflection of your safety program. Your accident frequency will increase with your lack of good housekeeping. Do you and your employees take the time to pick up trash items from the floor when they see them? Do not allow string, hangers, trash, water, etc., to accumulate on the floor. Do not store anything on stairs. Do give your employees the tools and time necessary to clean up their work areas at the end of their shifts.

About the author:
Jeffrey J. Joaquim has 15 years experience working in the Environmental Health and Safety field. His safety related responsibilities included conducting safety audits, industrial hygiene surveys, ergonomic assessments, risk assessments, drug testing program management, and causality insurance case management program management. Joaquim has worked with regulatory authorities throughout the United States and Canada and has developed comprehensive safety programs in both the laundry and chemical industries. He has developed and presented training programs and seminars, addressing a wide range of safety, health and workers’ compensation issues. Joaquim’s efforts have affected reductions in lost-time accident rates, which resulted in cost savings in the millions of dollars for his employers
.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Laundry Inks $23.7 Million Military Hospital Contract

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Division Laundry & Cleaners process over 16 million pounds of linens yearly for hospitals and hotels. San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) recently awarded the family-run business a 5-year, $23.7 million contract for laundry services.