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Reducing Ergonomic Risks in Dry Cleaning Operations

For workers who are on their feet for most of their shift, suffering from a bad back or sore ankles is an obvious risk. But with prolonged shifts and more time spent in a position that requires  they spend the majority of their time on their feet, the long-term effects can be detrimental to their overall health.

Ergonomic risk factors that come with working in hospitality or service industries can play a pivotal role in the everyday health of employees. These risks increase the threat of injury to the musculoskeletal system of the employee as repetitive motions, awkward postures, excessive reaching and precision gripping are all harmful over time.

This kind of risk is evident in the dry cleaning industry, where employees at these facilities have to utilize ergonomically challenging positions to complete their tasks. There are ways in which employees can reduce risks to their bodies and ways their managers and supervisors can encourage better health.

Updating Workstations and Processes

Within the dry cleaning industry, there are certain tasks that have been executed in specific ways for a long time. Trying something new may not be on the mind of managers and supervisors, but the threat of possible injury may change their mind. One thing to do is to invest in dry cleaners’ insurance that can protect against liabilities and financial issues.  Another prudent thing to do is to keep employee health at the top of the list.

The first step is to see what can be done about the workspace dry cleaning employees work around. Most of the equipment can’t be adjusted as is, so redesigning workstations to eliminate things like excessive reaching or bending can take a load off employees. Office workers are now using height adjustable desks more, and this kind of workspace design can be used in dry cleaning as well.

Next, the use of dry-to-dry dry-cleaning machines can help cut out garment transfer. It would help to invest in these or, if that’s not an available option at the moment, simply re-training employees to handle no more than 15-20 pounds of clothing during the garment transfer.  This can take some of the physical stress away.

When it comes to constantly bending over, which can cause a huge strain on lower backs, dry cleaning work stations can have clothing carts placed about 16 inches off the ground instead of directly on the ground. Adding just a bit more height will allow employees to not have to strain when bending over to move garments in and out. Some carts can even have spring-loaded bottoms to keep clothes at the same height throughout this process.

Other adjustments can be made to make everyday tasks better on the body. These include:

  • Use utility presses that allow for vertical and horizontal adjustment
  • Reduce leg fatigue by installing thick silicone floor mats with beveled edges
  • Adjust the height of cabinet bag sleever hand controls so that they’re close to the point of operation; this reduces excessive reaching

About Irving Weber Associates

At Irving Weber Associates, Inc., we understand what it takes to run a successful Dry Cleaner, Coin Operated Laundromat, Linen Supply business, or Commercial Launderer,  including investing in a comprehensive Insurance Program to ensure that you are financially protected against claims. Our program, Fabricare Advantage™, offers overall business insurance coverages including General Liability, Property, Site Pollution Liability, Boiler & Machinery Equipment Breakdown, Workers’ Compensation, Business Auto, and many more. For a detailed look at how we can help you safeguard your business with a custom-tailored package, please contact our experts today at (800) 243-1811.