Industrial Laundry Trade Association Launches Nationwide Safety Initiative

The Uniform and Textile Service Association (UTSA) has launched the Laundry Safety ESP (Effective Solutions + Prevention) program, a safety initiative for the industrial laundry industry. The comprehensive program debuted in May with the industry's first annual Laundry Safety Awareness Month.

UTSA President and CEO David Hobson reported that nearly 1,000 industrial laundry and linen supply plants have joined Laundry Safety ESP. These plants met their initial commitments by engaging their employees in Laundry Safety Awareness Month programs during May. Hobson said all participating companies implemented a series of interactive safety review programs for employees, in order to focus attention on specific safety topics.

"Members of the industry are currently expected to provide all worker safety training required by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration," said Hobson. "Laundry Safety Awareness Month safety review programs supplemented and reinforced existing employee safety training.”

He commented that Laundry Safety ESP is not a one-month effort. It is “a long-term, comprehensive roadmap to world-class safety for the industrial laundry industry, designed to reduce work-related injuries and illnesses.”

He said the UTSA’s primary means of achieving that goal is helping participating companies go beyond required safety processes in all areas, including training, internal inspections, awareness, safety-related employee activities and general employee involvement in safety issues.

Laundry Safety Awareness Month safety review programs covered topics identified by industry experts as critical to safety in laundry plants, such as general safety awareness, lockout/tagout, confined space safety and fall protection. The in-depth, interactive programs were developed by UTSA and provided to participating companies via the Laundry Safety ESP Web site: Programs, presenters' guides and promotional materials for plant facilities were available in English and in Spanish.

“Worker safety is a core value of the industry,” said UTSA Chairman Jeffrey L. Wright. “Our workers are our greatest asset and we want to make certain that we continue to reduce the potential for workplace injuries and illnesses. We are very pleased that more than 60,000 laundry plant workers participated in the interactive safety review sessions covering four important topics.”

Wright said the feedback from employee participants and from company managers was very positive. UTSA already is identifying topics for the 2nd Annual Laundry Safety Awareness Month in 2009. While the 2008 interactive safety review programs focused on safety issues critical inside facilities, Wright says that in future years, UTSA will include interactive safety review programs for enhancement of safety on delivery routes.

Wright is senior vice president and chief financial officer of G&K Services. He emphasized that Laundry Safety ESP and all of its programs are open to all industrial laundry and linen supply firms, not just UTSA members.

“The goal of Laundry Safety ESP is to ensure continued reduction of the number of injuries and illnesses in our industry,” said Wright.

Hobson said the next phases of Laundry Safety ESP will include data collection from participating companies. Development of industry-specific training programs on a variety of specific safety topics also will be a primary focus.

“Enhanced safety data collection across all industries has been identified as an important goal by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health,” said Hobson. “It is a complex and challenging task to produce large-scale data that provide a fully accurate picture of injury and illness data, and that advance understanding of who is injured on the job and how those injuries occur. But this task is very important for reducing injuries and illnesses in any industry.

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