BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Safety and textile services industry leaders addressed representatives from many of the nation’s commercial textile services facilities regarding the importance of continuous safety improvement “in our plants and on our roads” during TRSA’s recent Safety Summit.
“The objectives of this first TRSA Safety Summit were to increase safety awareness and generate initiatives for continuous safety improvements,” says TRSA President/CEO Joseph Ricci. “We must continue to move the industry from compliance and benchmarking against ourselves to a culture of safety measured against the best companies.”
More than 30 textile services companies—national and regional chains as well as independent local operators—participated in the “Safer Together” Summit, with more than half of participating companies sending multiple representatives.
“I’m inspired to be here; I’m inspired to talk to people. Hopefully, when we leave here, we reach out to each other,” says Michael Anderson, assistant general manager, Paris Healthcare Linen Services, DuBois, Pa. “Whether we’re in similar markets or not, when it comes to safety, we all should be involved in making it better for our plants.”
Rick Pollock, the incoming President of the American Society for Safety Engineers (ASSE), kicked off the event by providing a framework for establishing a safety culture. He was followed by facilitated breakout sessions of 12-15 participants focused on sharing best management practices and developing “next steps” for TRSA’s pursuit of continuous safety improvement, including sessions on ergonomics, injury prevention, fleet safety and management support.
The highlight of the Summit was a panel of the industry’s highest-ranking executives discussing their companies’ safety challenges and their integration of safety into daily operations.
The group included Bill Evans, AmeriPride Services, Minnetonka, Minn.; Scott Farmer, Cintas Corp., Cincinnati; Karl Filip, Alliance Laundry & Textile Services, Atlanta; and Jeff Wright, G&K Services, Minneapolis, Minn.
The panel called for shifting industry-wide improvement efforts from an OSHA-compliance-focused agenda to a risk-based, zero-tolerance approach.
“When measuring against ourselves, the textile services industry has made impressive gains in the reduction of illness and injury,” says Farmer, CEO of Cintas. “For continuous improvement, we must begin measuring ourselves against the safest companies regardless of their industry.”
As a result of the Safety Summit breakouts, TRSA will increase its commitment to developing and disseminating safety training and awareness resources, as well as establishing a safety advocate for the industry.