If you’re the owner of a dry-cleaning business, you’re probably quite familiar with the importance of keeping employees safe, as well as avoiding potential fines for violations. Truth is, there’s no official Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidance for dry cleaners — but this doesn’t mean that there are no solvents and equipment involved that require safety precautions.
Today, we’re going to cover the potential OSHA standards to maintain as the owner of a dry-cleaning business. We’ll also briefly explain how to go about doing so, from proper equipment maintenance to utilizing the expert services provided by Rema Dri-Vac. Use these guidelines to make sure your dry-cleaning business stays OSHA-compliant.
Pay Attention to These Factors to Keep Your Dry-Cleaning Business OSHA-Compliant
The processes involved in dry-cleaning often involve certain hazards, including fire, chemical, and ergonomic-related hazards. It is entirely possible for individuals engaged in dry-cleaning to be exposed to these hazardous chemicals, whether that exposure occurs through eye contact, absorption through the skin, or inhalation of dangerous vapors.
For instance, perchloroethylene (PERC) is the most commonly utilized solvent in dry-cleaning. There’s also evidence showing that PERC may be a human carcinogen. In other words, constant exposure to PERC in a dry-cleaning setting can be dangerous to workers’ health if at high enough levels.
When an individual is exposed to PERC, they can experience damage to their liver and kidneys, depression of their central nervous system, confusion, impaired memory, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat.
Whenever you keep your dry-cleaning facility OSHA-compliant, you significantly lower the risk of individuals suffering adverse health effects to common solvents. On that note, here is a list of some OSHA standards that are relevant to a dry-cleaning facility:
- Air Monitoring. Although this depends upon the high flash solvent you use, there may end up being permissible exposure (PEL) limits. Potential exposure can occur as individuals load and unload machines, as well as during pressing activities.
- Respirator Program. This is dependent upon sampling results and doesn’t include medical surveillance. However, it does have the selection, a written program, fit testing, and training.
- PPE Assessments. PPE assessments are reliant upon the tasks at hand. There are various potential high risks, often relating to solvent exposures that have previously been identified within the industry.
- Ergonomics. This is another issue that has been identified within the dry-cleaning industry, and it is one of the more common ones. For instance, standard processes like pressing, garment transfer, and bagging can all introduce potential ergonomic hazards.
- Hazard Communication. By their very nature, all dry-cleaning facilities use chemicals. For this reason, Hazcom will always be applicable. You’ll need to make sure you have a labeling system, written procedures, and employee training.
- Bloodborne Pathogens. Does the facility knowingly handle other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) or blood-contaminated garments? Are they in need of an established process for handling these sorts of items?
- LOTO Program and Training. This relates to program development, as well as training.
- LOTO Procedures. LOTO procedures aren’t just applicable to washers and dryers. Other kinds of equipment may fall under this standard as well.
- Fire Prevention. This may be needed whenever high flash solvents are involved. Make sure your facility has a written program available, as well as training.
- Emergency Action Plan. Have written programs and provide necessary training to employees.
- Machine Guarding/Tool Use. This directly relates to any mechanical handling processes, including bagging, hanging, pressing, repairs or alterations, and so on.
Additionally, in some instances, dry-cleaning facilities may have to account for these factors when meeting OSHA standards:
- Loading Docks/Pallet Jacks
- Hoists/Mechanical Handling
Recognizing and Solving Hazards at Your Dry-Cleaning Facility
It’s important not to forget that dry-cleaning facilities contain all the necessary elements to create uncontrolled fires. Namely, dry-cleaning businesses utilize ignition sources, fuels, and oxygen. These facilities are also full of various combustible materials, such as garments, furniture, lint, etc. If the storefront uses petroleum-based solvent in its dry-cleaning machines, then the risk of fires or explosions is even higher.
Furthermore, with high frequency and work rate, many ergonomic activities can lead to musculoskeletal problems and physical discomfort for workers. Fortunately, taking these risks into account, OSHA has compiled a list of resources to help dry-cleaners protect their facilities against common hazards. On this list, you’ll find various strategies of equipment maintenance designed specifically to avoid risks and keep your facility OSHA-compliant.
When you call in the experts at Rema Dri-Vac, we know exactly how to keep your dry-cleaning business OSHA-compliant. Between our engineering expertise and our deep understanding of OSHA standards, our repair services are the best option for dry-cleaning facilities looking to stay OSHA-compliant. We are also a leading manufacturer of dry-cleaning steam equipment in the Norwalk, CT area and beyond.
Want to get in touch with us? Give Rema Dri-Vac a call at 203-847-2464, or simply contact us through our website!