Textile Services’ Workplace Safety Continues to Improve

Jan. 12, 2011
Recordable injuries and illnesses in Textile Rental Services Association of America (TRSA) member workplaces were reduced 17 percent from 2008 to 2009, according to the annual TRSA Textile Services Industry Safety Report. The survey, compiled from forms submitted to OSHA by members of TRSA, the largest association of independent and national commercial launderers, was launched in 2005 in conjunction with SafeTRSA, an industry-wide initiative to improve worker safety through awareness, education and training.

“Since its inception in 2005, the SafeTRSA program has helped member companies reduce recordable injuries and illness by more than 50 percent,” said TRSA President Joseph Ricci, “This program demonstrates the importance TRSA members place on the safety and well-being of their employees and their impressive gains reflect the success of SafeTRSA in highlighting areas of emphasis and improvement.”

In addition to identifying problem areas, the survey facilitates the sharing of information and best practices among members and prompts collaboration on new SafeTRSA initiatives, policies and procedures that improve safety.

TRSA members reduced their recordable injuries and illnesses per 100 employees (TRIR Rate) by 5.1, from 10.9 in 2005 to 5.8 in 2009. Also declining was the total number of injuries and illnesses per 100 employees resulting in days away from work, job restrictions and/or job transfers (DART Rate) which fell by a total of 2.2, from 6.2 to 4.0 or more than one-third. The most recent one-year DART Rate improvement was also about 17 percent.

Ricci observed, “SafeTRSA has focused on the industry’s highest risk areas and those cited most frequently by OSHA.” Thus, the program has been particularly valuable in helping members develop more effective practices in maintaining equipment (lockout/tagout), handling soiled linen (especially bloodborne pathogens) and working in confined spaces.

This year’s survey is based on occupational injury and illness data submitted by 70 textile services companies operating 775 laundry-processing facilities (plants) and depots. A plant is defined as having laundry and route distribution functions on site; a depot consists only of the latter. The above figures measure plant performance; depots scored a 4.5 TRIR in 2009 and a 2.3 DART; these rates have declined 56 percent and 58 percent respectively since 2005.

By comparison, according to the U.S. Labor Department, the private manufacturing industry (whose operations are similar to those found in textile processing facilities and, therefore, shares many of the textile services industry’s same safety issues and compliance mandates) reduced its TRIR and DART rates by 31.7 percent and 34.3 percent respectively. All of private industry experienced a 21.7 percent decrease in the TRIR Rate and a 25 percent decline in the DART Rate.

The TRSA Textile Services Industry Safety Report covers a range of safety performance statistics for the industry as a whole and stratifies survey response data by number of plant employees and market (linen supply or industrial laundry). The report is distributed free to TRSA member companies who participate in the research; others can order it from the online store at http://www.trsa.org.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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