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Minimizing Work Related Accidents and Illnesses

It should be the goal of every organization to minimize work related accidents and illnesses. Why is this important? Injured and ill employees are not able to effectively contribute to your organization’s goal of maximizing share holder equity. All team members are necessary contributors to this end. Their efforts contribute to the delivering of quality garments to the customer, on time.

Every penny you pay out to your Workers Compensation carrier comes out of your bottom line. So what can you do to reduce accidents and illness? Give your employees the tools necessary to reduce and/or eliminate accidents. These tools can be found in a good Loss Control Program.

Before we go any further, it is important that you understand the anatomy of accidents/illnesses. This can be simply illustrated via the Accident Pyramid (see figure 1).

No First Aid occurs when an employee has a minor incident that can be addressed in-house via your first aid kit. First Aid is the treatment an employee receives at the local Doc-in-the-box. It is one-time only treatment which may include negative test results. Medical Treatment occurs when the employee has positive test results, and/or repeat visits to the medical providers, and/or has a prescription filled. Restricted Duty occurs when the injury or illness prevents the employee from return to full duty. Lost Time occurs when then employee cannot perform any duties due to the severity of the injury/illness. Fatality, of
course, occurs when life is lost.

Statically, there are always more No First Aid incidents than First Aid incidents. There are more First Aid Incidents than medical treatment cases, etc. A good Loss Control program will always take aim at reducing the No First Aid incidents. Eliminating blocks at the bottom of the pyramid will result in the elimination of upper blocks. You cannot begin this process without the basics. Therefore, I am going to start with First Aid and Emergency Eyewash and Showers.

First Aid
Do you have medical personnel on staff? Laundries generally are not large enough to have an on-site medical staff. If your local ambulance service is within 4-minutes of your location, DO NOT count on them unless they can guarantee that they will always have EMTs in the station to respond to your emergency call. Because you can not count on their availability 100% of the time, you should have an in-house team trained in first aid and CPR.

Is providing first aid and CPR training required or just the right thing to do? In a nut shell, both. 29 CFR 1910.151 (29 Code of Federal Regulations 1910 are OSHA’s General Industry Standards) states that you have to have readily available medical personnel for advice and consultation on matters of plant health, and, in the absence of a health care provider in near proximity to the workplace, there should be adequately trained employees to render first aid (and CPR). (Near proximity is generally defined as less than four minutes.) There must also be adequate first aid and CPR supplies readily available. Note: Since we are not licensed medical professionals, it is advisable to stay away from PILLS. We cannot dispense medications without a medical license. We can only provide first aid during emergencies.

Where can you find qualified trainers? You can usually find certified trainers at your local Red Cross chapter, at your local hospital or within the training office of your local or regional fire departments. Expect to pay a small fee for their services.

Who should receive the training? It should be offered of all employees on all shifts. There should always be first aid and CPR trained employees working on all shifts. An added benefit to the trained employees is that their training does not stay at work at the end of the day. The trained employees have this valuable tool with them at all times.

Emergency Eyewash and Shower
The OSHA Medical Services and First Aid standard stipulates that “where the eyes or body of any person may be exposed to injurious corrosive materials, suitable facility for quick drenching of flushing of the eyes and body shall be provided within the work area for immediate use.” The emergency eyewash and showers should be placed within 10 seconds (or 10 feet) of a work station where corrosive chemicals are used. They must always be accessible. Never, ever, allow a station to be blocked. Signs must be posted at each station so their locations can be seen from afar.

Must the emergency eyewash be hard piped? It should be hard piped unless there is no water available. Remember, a person must rinse their eyes for at least 15 minutes when they are contaminated with corrosive chemicals. You cannot get 15-minutes of solution out of the quart eyewash stations that some vendors market. Hard piped systems are the best method to ensure 15 minutes of water flow. ANSI (American National Standards Institute) recommends that new eye wash and shower installations have a hot/cold water mixing valve to provide tempered water. This is not an OSHA requirement at this time. (OSHA generally defers to the ANSI standard for construction, maintenance and up keep requirements of this emergency equipment.) However, I would not be surprised if some of the local building inspectors start requiring the mixing valves on new installations.

Eyewash and showers must be tested weekly to ensure that there is no rust or mineral deposit build-up in the lines, and that the water pressure is correct. The best protocol is to make this part of your weekly preventive maintenance program. Documenting the weekly checks is just as important as doing the actual checks. The easiest method of documentation is to hang a preprinted Eyewash and Shower Check tag on each fixture. The auditor can simply initial and date each check on the tag. The tags can be purchased from your label and sign vendor for a nominal cost.

Where do you need emergency eyewash and showers in the industrial laundry? Where ever employees handle corrosive chemicals. Generally, this is in the Wash Alley, the Boiler Room, and in the Wastewater Treatment Room. Remember, employees need to be able to accesses these emergency stations within ten seconds.

Quick Rinse - News From Around The World

Laundry to Reduce Air Emmissions and Fund Cleaner Burning Wood Stove Purchases

BOSTON, Mass. — Alltex Uniform Rental Service, an industrial laundry in Manchester, N.H. has agreed to settle claims by the US Environmental Protection Agency that it violated the Clean Air Act by paying a civil penalty of $65,000. They will also be undertaking a Supplemental Environmental Project with a value of at least $220,000 to replace old, polluting wood stoves in southern New Hampshire with new, cleaner models. Additionally, the company will install equipment at its facility to remove approximately 20 tons per year of emissions of volatile organic compounds (“VOCs”). G&K Services is the parent company of Alltex Uniform Rental Service Inc. The EPA action grew out of an EPA inspection of the facility in July 2008.