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May 2014

Bug Sprays Are Not All The Same

Tony Jones 2014 Posted by Tony Jones

As we enter the summer season it’s time to consider how to best protect outdoor workers.  One of the most important defenses in our arsenal against insects and vector diseases is insect repellants.  Many people have questions regarding the differences between the two most common insect repellants recommended by most resources. These two chemicals are Permethrin and DEET.  This additional information will help clarify any questions.

One of the most important differences between DEET and Permethrin is the method of application. For example, Permethrin is applied directly to clothing, while DEET can be applied to the skin and clothing.  It is important to remember that DEET is an insect repellant, while Permethrin is an actual insecticide. They work differently and so must be applied differently.

DEET: (chemical name N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is used as the active ingredient in many insect repellents. Insect repellents that contain DEET offer some of the best protection against mosquito bites, but must be frequently applied.

DEET is designed for direct application to skin and repels insects rather than killing them. Higher concentrations of DEET may have a longer repellent effect; however, concentrations over 50% provide no real added protection.

When using DEET containing products, follow these recommendations:

  • To apply to face, first spray product onto hands, then rub onto face.
  • Use only when outdoors and wash skin with soap and water after coming indoors.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Avoid over-application of the product.
  • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get into the eyes (DEET is toxic if swallowed.) Do not put DEET repellent on wounds or broken skin.

Permethrin:  an insecticide in the pyrethroid family. Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that act like natural extracts from the chrysanthemum flower. Permethrin isn't a repellant, but a powerful insecticide that kills insects on contact.

Permethrin is generally considered safe for human use and most mammals, with one exception. Cats lack an enzyme used to detoxify Permethrin, so it can be toxic to cats.

When using Permethrin, follow these recommendations:

  • Don't apply this product to skin.
  • Spray permethrin onto clothing, where it bonds tightly to most fabrics and lasts through multiple washings. It's non-staining and has no odor after it dries.
  • Do not breathe in, swallow, or get permethrin into the eyes.

DEET and Permethrin are important tools to help protect workers from bites, stings, and vector borne diseases. Your employees must understand the correct use of these two important chemicals. The number and types of diseases one can contract from ticks and mosquitoes, for example, are pretty grim. Yet, through judicious use of these chemicals and proper protective clothing such a long sleeved shirts and long pants one can greatly reduce risks of exposure to these biological hazards.

For additional information on insect repellent use check out this FAQ page from the Centers for Disease Control


Laundry Risk Factors and Best Practices (Part 3)

Peter Koch 2014 Posted by Peter Koch

Responsibilities of commercial laundry staff can include washing, drying, steaming, ironing, and chemically treating fabrics for use in hospitals, hotels, and other settings. Laundry can be heavy, treated with chemicals, and the work environment can be hot and humid. Work area set up, proper tools, staff training, machine maintenance, and good body mechanics are essential for laundry staff safety.

This 3 part blog summarizes the general hazards and controls for three major activities or tools in commercial laundry operations.

  • Part 1: Bins, Bags and Carts
  • Part 2: Washing and Drying
  • Part 3: Sorting and Folding

If you are looking for more detail on industrial laundry safety, check MEMIC’s recorded Hotel Safety Webinar on MEMIC's Safety Director.

Activity or Tool:  Sorting and Folding

Sorting and folding in commercial laundry operations, if not managed properly, creates risk factors for the worker.  The size, weight and volume of the linen processed can be challenging for the worker to manage.  Add the repetitious nature of the movements necessary to process the linen and it becomes apparent why sorting and folding can be tough work.

1) Risk Factors:

a) Awkward postures

i) shoulder, trunk, upper body, wrist and elbow posturesLaundry Image 1

b) Repetitive motions

i) Grasping, lifting, reaching, bending

c) Excessive force

i) Lifting heavy bedding and oversized linenLaundry Image 2

d) Prolonged standing at folding stations

e) Chemical and BBP exposure

2) Controls:

a) Engineer the Space

i) Place anti fatigue mats at each work stationLaundry Image 3

ii) Use adjustable tables to accommodate different worker heights

(1) Tables should be adjusted to just below elbow height for folding

(2) If tables cannot be adjusted, raise tables to fit the average taller worker and provide a removable safe work platform for shorter workers

iii) Use folding arms to support laundry as it’s being folded

iv) Install automated folding machines for small items  

b) Administrative Controls

i) Rotate job tasks to decrease repetition

(1) Workers should be trained and rotated through all tasks in the laundry space to minimize excessive repetitions of the same motion

ii) Power grip rather than pinch grip while picking up laundry

(1) Using a power grip rather than the pinch grip can reduce the necessary force it takes to handle the laundry.

iii) Awkward posture avoidance: Laundry Image 6

(1) Avoid holding laundry up high with your arms

(a) Keep elbows low or by your side.

(2) When folding large pieces,

(a) Keep arms low and use a clean bin or table to support the piece

(b) Practice team folding

 c) Policies and Procedures

i) Develop policies and procedure that ban sorting and moving laundry at floor level. Laundry Image 9

ii) Ensure procedures are in place to minimize all lifting below knee level; place all laundry in containers and bags, or use a laundry hook.

d) Mechanical Assistance

i) Laundry should be moved within the facility in bins or carts, never in bundles or bags by hand.

ii) Tilt tables or tilting carts can assist with loading washers and dryers, and getting dry laundry onto the folding tables without excessive bending or reaching.

iii) Use laundry hooks or rakes to get laundry from the far back of the washer/dryer, sorting table, or bottom of the bin.Laundry Image 10

e) Chemical and Pathogen Safety

i) Use of latex or nitrile gloves, aprons and safety glasses can help prevent contact with harsh chemicals and bloodborne pathogens if present.

ii) Read, understand, and know the location of the Safety Data Sheets (SDS - formerly MSDS) for the chemicals you will be working with and around.


Laundry Risk Factors and Best Practices (Part 2)

Peter Koch 2014 Posted by Peter Koch

Responsibilities of commercial laundry staff can include washing, drying, steaming, ironing, and chemically treating fabrics for use in hospitals, hotels, and other settings. Laundry can be heavy, treated with chemicals, and the work environment can be hot and humid. Work area set up, proper tools, staff training, machine maintenance, and good body mechanics are essential for laundry staff safety.

This 3 part blog summarizes the general hazards and controls for three major activities or tools in commercial laundry operations.

  • Part 1: Bins, Bags and Carts
  • Part 2: Washing and Drying
  • Part 3: Sorting and Folding

If you are looking for more detail on industrial laundry safety, check MEMIC’s live Hotel Safety Webinar on May 8 at 10am EST.  Click here for more details.

Activity or Tool:  Washing and Drying

Washing and drying laundry can be especially challenging for laundry staff.  Commercial washers and dryers found in most hospitality settings vary in size, but generally take loads of about 75 lbs.  Loading and unloading these machines can be physically demanding due to the volume and weight of the material and the configuration of the machine.  Fully loaded washers and dryers can require significant force to unload when linens have become tangled up in the cycle.  Add to that a long reach into a machine over a cart and we have a recipe for an injury.

1) Risk Factors:

a) Awkward postures

i) Shoulder, trunk, upper body, wrist and elbow postures when reaching into and pulling laundry out of the machines

b) Repetitive motions Laundry Image 1

i) Grasping, lifting, reaching, bending

c) Excessive force exerted when pulling laundry out of the machine.

d) Chemical and bloodborne pathogen exposure

2) Controls:

a) Engineer the Space (if possible)

i) Raise the machines off the floor making loading and unloading easier

ii) Install tilting machines

iii) Ensure machines are no deeper than 25-30 inches for small laundry operations

b) Administrative Controls

i) Bin Placement Laundry Image 2

(1) Use a bin that is at or lower than the level of the opening of the machine

(2) Place the bin to the side of the machine

(a) This will ensure room enough to stand directly in front of the machine, limiting reaching and twisting over laundry bins.  

ii) Use specialized tools

(1) Tools such as laundry hooks and rakes can help prevent reaching into or awkward bending to reach laundry at the back of the machines

iii) Limit load sizes when possible

(1) Overloading washers and dryers can increase the work necessary to untangle and pull out each item.

iv) Use the correct size bin

(1) Purchase and label bins, that are the same load size as the washer, to prevent overloading

v) Proper body mechanics

(1) Train workers in proper bending and lifting techniques

(a) Support upper body with opposite hand when reaching into a machine or over a cart or table

c) Chemical and Pathogen Safety

i) Use of latex or nitrile gloves, aprons, and safety glasses can help prevent contact with harsh chemicals and bloodborne pathogens

ii) Read and understand the Safety Data Sheets (SDS - formerly MSDS) for the chemicals you will be working with and around

iii) Ensure proper ventilation in the laundry space Laundry Image 3

(1) Use room ventilation where present

(2) Open doors and windows

 


Laundry Risk Factors and Best Practices (Part 1)

  Peter Koch 2014 Posted by Peter Koch

Responsibilities of commercial laundry staff can include washing, drying, steaming, ironing, and chemically treating fabrics for use in hospitals, hotels, and other settings. Laundry can be heavy, treated with chemicals, and the work environment can be hot and humid. Work area set up, proper tools, staff training, machine maintenance, and good body mechanics are essential for laundry staff safety.

This 3 part blog summarizes the general hazards and controls for three major activities or tools in commercial laundry operations. 

  • Part 1:  Bins, Bags and Carts
  • Part 2:  Washing and Drying
  • Part 3:  Sorting and Folding

If you are looking for more detail on industrial laundry safety, check MEMIC’s live Hotel Safety Webinar on May 8 at 10am EST.  Click here for more details.

Activity or Tool:  Bins, Bags, and Carts

Bins and bags are as common to the laundry as water.  They can be a big help or they can become hazards.  Like all containers, usually bigger is better, until we need to move them or get something out of them.  Bin and bag capacity, design, maintenance, and well thought out work practices are key to injury prevention in the laundry. 

1) Risk Factors:

a)  Awkward Postures:

i) Pulling bins can create awkward upper body postures

ii) Lifting laundry from bins and carts can create awkward postures

b) Excessive Force

i) Carts and bins with broken, dirty, or improperly sized casters require added force to move

ii) Lifting of overstuffed or improperly stowed bags can generate unnecessary forces on the body

c) Repetitive Actions

i) The nature of the motions required to manage laundry is repetitive

2) Controls:

a) Modify Bins – Not all bins are created equal.  Bins should not be purchased solely on the basis of capacity. 

i) Bottoms

(1) Install spring loaded or false bottoms

(a) Spring-loaded bottoms reduce awkward bending when removing laundry by raising the load as more weight is taken from the top. 

(b) False bottoms reduce the force necessary to push the cart and the awkward postures when removing laundry by raising the height of the bottom and limiting the overall capacity of the bin.

ii) Casters

(1) Install larger casters to decrease the force required to push the cart, while at the same time raising the height to reduce awkward pushing postures

(2) Maintain casters on a regular basis  

iii) Design:

(1) Lower one side of bin to reduce bending when removing laundry

(2) Install handle to encourage proper trunk posture when pushing

b) Modify Bags – Laundry bags can be a help and a hazard.  Purchase or modify laundry bags to reduce the force necessary to lift, carry, and empty them.

i) Size:

(1) Purchase bags that hold no more than 20-25 lbs. of wet laundry

(2) Modify  existing bags to reduce their capacity

(a) Sew the lower third of the bag closed

(b) Sew the bag into a funnel shape to reduce the capacity and make unloading easier

ii) Design:

(1) Purchase bags with multiple handles or add handles on the bottom and side of existing bags for easier two-hand lifting

(2) Ensure the bags can be easily opened and closed

iii) Material

(1) Plastic bags that can be easily torn open will facilitate easier unloading.  However, unless recycled, these are not a green resource

iv) Develop Policy and Procedure for Loading

(1) Create a policy about loading and overstuffing bags.  The policy should reflect maximum and optimum loading levels based on the bag assize with a 25 lb maximum for any bag.

(2) Train staff on the policy and how to evaluate their own bags.

(3) Compliance should be regularly observed and evaluated through random weighing.

c) Position of linen on cart:

(1) Place heavier folded items or bags of clean linen toward the middle rack of the cart

(2) Keep frequently accessed items in the power zone between shoulder and waist height

(3) Place lighter, less frequently accessed items higher or locate them closer to the floor

d) General considerations:

(1) Push don't pull bins and carts

(2) Organize space to suit volume and flow

(3) Use two hands to lift laundry bags

(4) Support your upper body when leaning over to lift

(5) Avoid lifting from ground/floor level