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Survey: Laundries Combat Heat Using Cooling Equipment, Earlier Production

CHICAGO — Many laundry production workers face conditions that make them especially vulnerable to safety and health hazards, and higher summer temperatures increase the risk. So, it should be no surprise that virtually everyone who responded to this month’s Wire survey—96.3%—utilize direct or indirect cooling equipment in his/her laundry.

Fans, whether permanent or portable, is the most popular type of cooling equipment in place, utilized by 80.8% of respondents. Nearly half (46.2%) have air conditioning.

Spot cooling systems (34.6%), swamp coolers (19.2%), portable evaporative coolers (7.7%) and “other” equipment are also used.

Some plants adjust their production schedules during extended periods of hot weather. Among the 44.4% of respondents who do this, it’s fairly common for production to begin one to two hours earlier than usual, with additional breaks. But some get started even sooner.

“If the weather is going to be above 97 degrees, we start production at 3:30 a.m. (normal start is 7 a.m.),” explains a plant operator. “This usually allows us to finish production before 1 p.m.”

Others push through in spite of the heat. “At no time is the plant cool,” says another manager. “Starting earlier or later does not cool the plant. We operate 16-18 hours daily.”

Roughly 70% of respondents say they post instructional posters about heat stress and/or offer instruction or training to their employees in how to keep cool on the job.

While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take a brief industry survey anonymously online each month. All managers and administrators of institutional/OPL, cooperative, commercial and industrial laundries are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.

To sign up for the Wire, click the “Subscriptions” button at the top right-hand corner of this page and follow the instructions.

Cooling equipment graphic
Production schedule graphic

Have a question or comment? E-mail our editor Matt Poe at [email protected] .