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Survey: Laundry Safety Efforts Can Always Improve

Management involvement, training key, respondents indicate

CHICAGO — Efforts to create safe working environments in the laundry/linen services industry seem to be working somewhat effectively.

That’s what a recent Your Views survey conducted by American Laundry Newsindicates.

For nearly 45% of respondents, it’s been more than two years since the operation had a lost-time injury. About 29% say it’s been between 13 months and two years since such an incident has been logged.

More than 17% say the last lost-time injury took place more than six months but less than a year ago, while 19% indicate an incident has occurred within the past six months.

“Safety is an all-the-time thing—everybody’s responsibility, every day,” a survey taker writes.

“It’s about creating a culture where staff know safety is first and can question things when they feel at risk or identify something that isn’t safe,” adds another respondent.

When asked if new hires received safety training or testing as a standard orientation procedure, more than 90% of respondents say, “Yes.” Less than 7% say their companies do not offer training or testing to new hires, while less than 2% didn’t know.

“Safety training cannot be a ‘check-off’ item,” stresses one respondent. “In-house trainers need to make it an interactive process with a facility tour to complement the initial Day One training and have an active (proactive) safety committee in place.”

The numbers fall almost along the same lines when it comes to offering continuing safety education and training to employees—90% do offer further training while 10% do not offer employees safety training on a continuous basis.

One survey taker shares, “We do two tool box talks a month on safety.”

“When making rounds in the plant, I ask employees in different areas if they have any safety issues,” adds another.

More than half of respondents indicate that their companies have had a consultant or other knowledgeable industry resource visit their plants to assess safety measures. Almost 42% haven’t had such a visit, and 3% didn’t know.

“Yearly, we bring our insurance group to do safety meeting with all employees,” a respondent shares.

When asked, “Has a regulatory agency ever fined your operation for a safety violation during your tenure,” 87% of survey takers say, “No,” while just 12% say a fine has been levied. 

One respondent writes, “We had a machine guard violation, which resulted in a fine.” 

“We had equipment stored in front of electrical box in boiler room,” another shares. “We marked the area and posted it to keep it clear at all times.”

Other regulatory violations respondents say have had to be addressed include adding an exit sign in the middle of the facility to direct people to the nearest exit and having no hand rails on the stairs to the mezzanine. 

“We resolved that within two days by adding a hand rail,” the respondent writes.

“Safety systems on equipment should be checked to make sure they function properly at the start of each shift by the equipment operators,” one survey taker advises.

The key for successful laundry safety programs for many survey takers is for management to lead the way.

“Management must live the safety culture,” writes a respondent.

“Safety is one of our values,” another agrees. “It must be owned at the executive level and be a critical part of an organization’s culture.”

“Staff safety should always come first, not just because it saves workers’ compensation claims, but also because staff who know you value them by promoting safety are more engaged and do a better job,” advises a respondent.

While the Your Views survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific. Due to rounding, percentages may not add up to 100%.

Subscribers to American Laundry News e-mails are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each quarter. 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 identify industry trends. 

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