“What planning and training must a laundry manager or textile rental operator coordinate to prepare his/her employees to react safely and swiftly during a crisis in the facility, such as a fire or other life-threatening event?”
Hotel/Motel/Resort Laundry: Phil Jones, Sheraton Vistana Resort, Orlando, Fla.
Fire is certainly a concern in any laundry facility. Our laundry team partners with hotel security and the local fire department, and once per year key team members are trained on the proper use of a fire extinguisher. They actually get to use an extinguisher to put out a controlled fire.
Our laundry team is trained on evacuation procedures, including having an established meeting area in the event of any emergency. The laundry managers have a master list of those team members who are working, and all are checked in and accounted for. We hold bimonthly emergency drills to make sure everyone follows the same procedures.
In Florida, we must also be prepared for tropical storms or hurricanes. Our team has developed a procedure book with step-by-step information for “before,” “during” and “after” planning. Included in the book are all team members’ phone numbers and a toll-free hotline that would be activated to supply team members with information about resort status.
The book also lists who would be on the active list to stay on property during an emergency, and the names of family members (if they would be bringing their family here to stay in one of our rooms).
You have to make safety a way of life and get your team members involved in looking for potential hazards and taking action before something happens. We have several incentives, such as movie tickets or gift cards, for team members who report potential hazards that need to be corrected.
Equipment Manufacturing: Chuck Anderson, Ellis Corp., San Diego
There is a magnitude of planning and training involved to ensure employees react safely and swiftly during a crisis.
Fire — The first line of defense is prevention! Your maintenance staff needs to keep electrical panels and control cabinets lint- and debris-free. Have an outside company inspect wiring, lugs and breakers annually.
Train staff about how and why spontaneous combustion occurs and how to properly handle and store textiles that contain grease, oil or other flammable contaminants. This includes allowing textiles to properly cool down before staff leaves the building at night.
Instruct staff where to locate fire extinguishers inside your facility and how to properly use them (your local fire protection service company can provide training and certification).
Evacuation routes, assembly areas, utility shut-off points and emergency numbers should be posted and clearly marked. Conduct fire drills monthly.
Flood — This usually occurs when an old pipe suddenly gives way and we are left running around trying to figure out how to isolate the problem.
All of your plant’s main headers and isolation valves should be clearly marked and identified. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) have piping color codes and label requirements that should be followed.
Cross-train supervisors on all equipment operation and emergency shut-off locations in case maintenance personnel are not readily available. Exercise valves regularly to make sure they do indeed shut off supply; replace them if they fail. If a flood occurs, staff should immediately power off all equipment if safe to do so.
Chemical Spills — Keep Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) up to date and readily available (one complete copy at the workstation and another in your office). Make sure your staff has been properly trained on how and when to wear PPE. When respirators are required, make sure they are fitted to the individual and contain the proper filters.
Consider having curbs poured, or purchasing containment basins, for your bulk chemicals. Have a chemical spill kit available and train on what is in the kit and how to use. Keep emergency shower and eyewash stations clean and clutter-free.
Fluid Oil Spills — Self-contained thermal fluid ironers are becoming more prevalent. How many laundries that own one of these ironers have an emergency oil-absorbent spill kit? Make sure you have MSDS sheets on the brand of oil you use.
Train your staff on where and how to shut off the main electrical power. Many of these ironers’ emergency safety switches shut off the roll drive only. Pumps continue to circulate oil so it does not degrade. If you have a leak, you will need to get the pumps shut off immediately.
Plug floor drains and sinks around ironers to eliminate the possibility of leaking oil spilling into the municipal sewer system. You can do this easily using plumbing test plugs found at your local hardware store.
Earthquake — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website has many suggestions for what to do before, during and after an earthquake. You must make sure your staff knows the safest places inside the plant to take cover, and where they should reassemble after an earthquake.
Maintain basic supplies such as flashlights, battery-powered radio, batteries, first-aid kits, emergency food and water (if practical), etc. Post evacuation routes and coordinate practice drills. Train staff on location of utility shut-offs. Secure shelving that may topple during a quake, and move heavy items to lower shelves.
Chemicals Supply: Carrie Armstrong, Ecolab, Eagan, Minn.
The first step to ensure the safety of employees during a crisis is to develop and document a crisis management plan. A detailed plan provides procedures. Each crisis is unique, and no plan can anticipate all events; the primary concern has to be employee safety.
A safety team can be designated to develop the crisis plan and update it annually, or more often as new procedures are required and potential crises become known.
It is important all employees receive continual safety training. In order to ensure they respond to a crisis quickly, appropriately and swiftly, they need to know what is expected. Routine training classes and exercises simulating a crisis, such as severe-weather drills, help employees become comfortable in their responses.
The quickest, safest response to a crisis will occur when all employees are trained on where to go and what to do, comfortably and without hesitation.
Equipment/Supplies Distribution: Russ Arbuckle, Wholesale Commercial Laundry Equipment SE, Southside, Ala.
In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “It happens.” How we react to “it” is usually a direct result of how well we have trained and planned for “it.”
Emergency-response plans are only as good as the people who implement them. It is impossible to plan for every possible scenario, but most emergencies require similar reactions to minimize injury, property damage or even death.
Failure to properly shut down equipment may create additional hazards to plant personnel or emergency-response personnel.
In most cases, equipment shutdown consists of nothing more than turning off a main disconnect switch or circuit breaker. However, all safety officers and maintenance directors should review manufacturer-recommended shutdown procedures—for all pieces of equipment—and be sure all relevant personnel are well versed in those procedures.
Most manufacturers install emergency-stop buttons on their equipment, and some now include main-disconnect switches, which also allow for lockout/tagout procedures. These safety features should be considered when looking at the purchase of new equipment.
In addition, when equipment is being installed, main disconnects or safety switches—if not an integral part of the equipment—should be included in the installation and located for easy access in case of emergency.
We all hope an emergency does not occur in our facility; let’s make sure we are well trained and prepared in case it does.