Cintas Corp. set a precedent for TRSA, the Association for Linen, Uniform and Facility Services. The company hosted the association’s first laundry tour fully dedicated to visitors’ examination of workplace safety practices. Participants learned about techniques for protecting personnel at major steps in a Cintas Kansas City facility’s workflow.
Some 90 professionals attending TRSA’s May 10-11 Production Summit in KC participated. Cintas officials conducted two tours, facilitating participants’ greater personal and direct interaction with them.
“We’re exceptionally proud of Cintas’ reputation for our world-class management of—and innovation in—workplace safety and health,” said Stephen Jenkins, Cintas Director of Safety and Health. “We prioritize an organizational-wide culture of safety that constantly innovates better and safer ways to work, and we appreciate this opportunity to share our safety advances with TRSA and help others think about strategies that can help keep their workforces safer on the job.”
“TRSA appreciates the extensive preparation of the Cintas location management and corporate safety team for the tour,” said TRSA President and CEO Joseph Ricci. “Their advance work and game-day performance reflect their dedication to continuous improvement in working safely.”
General Manager Jody Stewart and the location team welcomed TRSA to the 44,000-square-foot facility in a parking-lot tent, where they kicked off the tour by discussing the company’s employee-partner engagement concepts that help promote workplace safety, a key component in a multi-faceted optimization program that emphasizes partners’ voices. This includes attention to detail in devising training in multiple languages. Other concepts that apply across the workforce were included in this introduction, such as muscle stretching and flexing.
From there attendees walked through the facility and their attention turned to safety and health concerns at key stages in textile and laundry processing. In the stockroom, where new uniforms are tagged for delivery to business customers and their individual wearers, visitors learned about ergonomic measures. They saw how heat seal machines that affix sealant-backed cloth emblems and nameplates have been enhanced for worker protection. Troubleshooting procedures were discussed.
Where items are returned from customers for washing (unloaded for sorting) participants witnessed exposure control practices that help protect employee-partners from contaminants on items, as well as sharps inadvertently left in garments, a particular concern for textiles used by healthcare customers. Highlighted here: large fans to ensure air quality and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Visitors were acquainted with safety procedures for the laundry’s wash alley. This concept consists of a line of washers on one side of an alley and dryers on the other to ease loading and facilitate transfer to other machines for further processing. Thousands of pounds of product are processed on a daily basis. At this tour stop, safety innovations in lint control and maintenance electrical safety were highlighted.
The tour sequence shifted to outdoors for viewing the loading dock operation. The location service team discussed fleet safety procedures including monthly driving training drills, covering skills such as close-corner maneuvering. Items stored on delivery vans for driver protection were highlighted.
The Kansas City-area facility visited by TRSA is one of Cintas’ 300-plus North American locations supporting its rental workwear and facility services business. Cintas is the world’s largest company of its kind, focusing on workwear, facility services, first aid and safety, fire protection and customer design-house workwear collections. The company employs almost 43,000 employee-partners in the U.S. and Canada and has approximately 11,000 delivery routes servicing customers coast to coast.
The facility was part of a prior acquisition, which required Cintas to retrofit and re-engineer its safety protocols into the existing design and layout. In newly built Cintas facilities, the company designs these considerations into the build from the start.
“We believe this particular location is a great reference for TRSA members as they evaluate their safety and health programs,” said Jenkins. “We took an existing facility and integrated our safety needs into it, which is a situation many of the Production Summit attendees would face at their own properties. We wanted to show you can think about effectively enhance workplace safety in any type of workplace.”
Workplace safety improvement is a top TRSA priority for the linen, uniform and facility services industry. Each year the association conducts a Health and Safety Summit as an in-person event or virtually. An annual benchmarking survey takes place to document members’ success in reducing injury and illness. From 2017 to 2021, the survey showed a 7.1% TRIR decrease and a 20% DART drop. These reductions were greater than those of all private industry from 2016 to 2020. TRSA’s Safety Committee provides guidance manuals for member use in executing logout/tagout, confined space entry, bloodborne pathogens handling and more.
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