Simple steps help ensure safe laundry operations

Hoteliers that operate on-premises laundries can keep their properties and laundry personnel safe by following a few simple yet important steps. As with most safety programs, the proverbial ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

Scott Reid, VP, operations support with LBA Hospitality, said LBA makes sure the back of dryers are cleaned thoroughly as needed, and on a monthly basis at a minimum. This includes cleaning the burner tubes and thermistor covers and removing any lint that has accumulated in the unit. The burner flame also is inspected to ensure that it is receiving the correct fuel-to-air ratio. 

“If [the burner flame] is burning blue with just the tips of the flames being yellow, then the mixture is good,” Reid said. “If it is burning all yellow the mixture is rich, meaning that there is not enough oxygen present to fully combust the fuel. This can be the case when a dryer gets dirty and lint chokes off the air slots on the burner tube.”

Other tips from Reid include cleaning the lint traps multiple times each day of use, confirming the laundry chute doors close fully and installing fusible links, which provide protection in the case of a short circuit or voltage spike.

Matt McAtee, regional director of operations at McNeill Hotel Co., said that McNeil’s engineering team inspects behind the washers and dryers weekly. The company also works with Ecolab to inspect all of McNeil’s laundry equipment each month to ensure that everything is working properly. Ecolab trains McNeil’s team members on how to properly handle the chemicals in the laundry room as well.

McAtee added that McNeill has emergency procedure binders in all of its hotels. 

“The emergency procedures cover tornadoes, fires, theft, etc.,” he said. “We make sure that our team members are reviewing these monthly. We also make sure to do biannual fire drills to practice where to go in case of a fire and how to service the guest during this emergency.”

Reid said laundry fire safety is part of LBA’s quarterly person-in-charge training. 

“The isolation points (gas and electric) for each piece of equipment are reviewed,” Reid said. “In the event a fire is prohibiting access to the back of the dryers, the main gas valve would then be turned off.” He added that some properties have fire suppression systems built into the equipment.

Lifting injuries, slips and falls and other laundry room hazards can be mitigated with training and proper equipment. Immediate clean-up of spills, “wet floor” signs and requiring nonslip shoes are all simple steps that can help keep workers safe. Reid added that the laundry room’s eyewash station should be unobstructed, material safety data sheet binders kept current, safety guards in place, carbon monoxide detectors in good working order and chemicals properly stored.

Finally, although the COVID-19 pandemic is no longer dominating the headlines, it is still a major source of attention in the hospitality industry. 

“We encourage all associates to wear gloves at all times, especially in laundry,” McAtee said