Major Safety Risks for OPL Employees (And Tips to Keep Them Safe)

Wet Floor sign in Laundry room

Unfortunately, we hear about injuries and safety-related incidents in on-premise laundry rooms all the time. Maintenance and housekeeping staff working in an on-premises laundry room are at a high risk of injury due to back strain, falls, chemicals, and other hazards. Let’s take a look at a few of the major risks OPL employees face and some things you can do to keep yourself and your employees safe when working in your laundry room. 

 

Slips & Falls

Wet floors, spilled chemicals, and piles of linens, cords, and boxes are all potential tripping hazards in your on-premises laundry room. 

  • Use wet floor signs as necessary and clean up spills and leaks as quickly as possible. 
  • Have designated areas for sorting and storage to avoid boxes, linens, and other hazards getting in pathways. 
  • Keep cords out of pathways and use cord protectors to help avoid tripping on them. 
  • Keep soaps and chemicals stored away when not in use to prevent accidental spills that can make floors slippery and lead to injury. 
  • Make sure your team members wear closed-toe, anti-slip shoes while working. 
  • Install slip-resistant flooring and mats. 

Back Strain & Injury

OPL employees are constantly lifting loads of clothes, bending to get into washers and dryers, and, in general, straining their back throughout the day. 

  • Have lifting straps, dollies, forklifts, and wheeled carts on-site and require multiple people when lifting heavy loads to avoid employee injuries and back strain. 
  • Teach employees how to lift linens and push laundry cards with their legs, not their backs.
  • Require footwear with good support that helps brace muscles when lifting. 
  • Avoid overfilling washers and dryers. It’s easy for employees to strain their backs when lifting out large amounts of linen at once. 
  • Provide areas for resting during break times with comfortable, supportive seating. 

Sharps, Germs & Bacteria

Particularly in medical facilities like hospitals and nursing homes, OPL employees are at risk of injury from needs and other sharps that found their way into the linens, as well as germs and bacteria from blood, urine, and other waste. 

  • Provide and follow laundry instructions as noted by OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
  • Make sure there are designated sharps containers to avoid having sharps get left in the linens and become and hazard. 
  • Require people to use laundry bags and other containment methods to minimize the spread of bacteria while transporting contaminated items. 
  • Use a color-coding or labeling system to make all employees aware of potentially contaminated or soiled linens. 
  • Require appropriate personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, etc.) when handling soiled or contaminated linens. 
  • Have designated areas for clean linens and another for soiled linens to avoid contamination. 

Chemicals, Soaps & Detergents

Laundry often requires soaps, detergents, and other chemicals to get the clothes clean. Overuse and extended contact with these chemicals can cause issues for employees if safety precautions are not taken. 

  • Make sure all chemicals are labeled so employees know potential risks and proper procedures. 
  • Have a system to store all detergents and chemicals properly to avoid spills or accidental cross-contamination. 
  • Require PPE as necessary when handling chemicals to avoid contact with skin, eyes, or airways. 
  • Consider switching to more natural and environmentally-friendly soaps that are less harsh on skin and linens

General Safety Tips for On-Premises Laundry Facilities

  • Everyone should avoid working alone in case of potential injury. 
  • Document any incidents for insurance purposes.
  • Improve lighting. Good lighting makes it easier to avoid hazards. 
  • Follow proper maintenance and safety procedures when operating equipment to avoid damage and injury. 
  • Assign responsibilities and have clearly documented safety procedures so everyone is clear on expectations and how to handle emergencies.  

Why Safety is Important

Of course, no one wants to see their employees injured, but safety goes beyond that as well. Ultimately, a safe laundry room is a more productive and profitable room since processes aren’t slowed down due to injury, people taking extended time off, or costly insurance claims and compensation. 

In addition to the notes above, using updated commercial laundry equipment can help you better track your OPL performance and alert you to potential hazards and safety risks such as leaks, fire risks, etc. If you’re looking for ways to improve safety and efficiency in your OPL operation, let’s chat. If you’re in Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, west Texas, or western Nebraska, we’d love to work with you.