GLENDALE, Ariz. — Managing the Laundromat’s safety seems almost like an afterthought to some owners, but there are several areas in and around your mat that can be potential hazards for customers and employees. Knowing how and when to manage these potential hazards can reduce the odds of someone getting seriously hurt and lower your legal exposure.
In Part 1, I began by addressing general safety in the areas of floors and doors; training; and crime deterrents. Let’s continue with general safety:
Fire Protection — Keep your mat as completely clean of lint as possible!
Lint is highly flammable (check out the YouTube video titled How flammable is dryer lint? to see just how much). It can turn a small fire into a disaster, so keep lint out of every nook and cranny.
Your electrical wiring and boxes should be up to code.
Keep fire extinguishers handy and properly charged around the store.
During construction or remodeling, use materials in your mat that don’t support combustion, such as metal studs and 5/8-inch sheetrock. Choose ceramic tiles instead of wood paneling.
Big mirrors on your walls not only deter combustion, but they also make your mat look bigger. Besides, many people just love checking themselves out, so it’s a customer draw as well.
Leak/Flood Prevention — All washer door locks should be operating properly and drains should be draining. You don’t want a customer to open a washer door and have 15 gallons of water pour out! This is both a slip hazard and a shock hazard, so check all door locks at least once a week, if not more.
Same goes for water hoses. Don’t go cheap. Cheap hoses can pop off and spray water all over!
Make sure to have your drain lines routinely cleaned before they clog up and cause a flood. It’s great prevention and saves you emergency calls.
Gas Leaks — If anyone smells natural gas, close your store immediately, evacuate everyone and shut off the gas! If you can, open all doors and windows.
Flicking a light switch can ignite gas if enough has accumulated in your mat. Your dryers will make sparks to ignite the gas, so shut down your power, too. Your crew should know how to handle a gas leak.
If you can’t immediately find and fix the leak, you must leave the store with the gas main shut until a licensed plumber can track and repair the leak.
Windows — Big storefront windows can be beautiful, but be careful about seating or benches pressing against the glass. Make sure the seatbacks are not a hard metal that could crack or break the glass.
Also, all seating should be secure and strong enough to support heavy customers with no risk of tipping over.
Ventilation — Some customers have lung issues such as COPD or emphysema. Some may have problems with lint in the air, so don’t sweep near people. It’s a good idea to have filters on your ventilation.
Lighting — Besides deterring bad guys and attracting customers, good lighting will also make customers’ laundry look cleaner, people will be able to see better walking around in your mat, and your video surveillance will work better for identification purposes.
Water Temperature — According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, your hot water should be no hotter than 120 F at any tap (or soapbox) to avoid scalding (per CPSC Safety Alert: Avoiding Tap Water Scalds).
First Aid — Keep bandages, Band-Aids® and antibiotic ointment on hand for treating minor cuts and scrapes.
Protected Outlets — Mats have lots of electrical outlets. It only costs a little more to install GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlets to make them all shock-proof.
Children and Carts — When kids ride in carts, it’s an accident just waiting to happen. They tend to tip the carts and fall over, possibly hurting themselves or others, as well as damaging your equipment. One cart maker sells an installable device designed to discourage anyone from sitting or riding in a laundry cart basket.
Detergent Pods — Due to the risk of young children possibly eating laundry detergent pods because they look like candy, I would ban the pods from the mat, with a nice sign explaining your decision.
Rubber Balls — Small vending machines often sell small bouncy balls for children. The problem? They are real slip hazards when left lying on the floor. Think twice before selling them.
Dryer Sheets — Customers always seem to let their used dryer sheets fall on the floor. Since these sheets can be a slip hazard, pick them up ASAP.
Check back Thursday for the conclusion focusing on personal safety!
If you missed Part 1, you can read it HERE.