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Laundry equipment
  • Employers whose work involves laundry operations may include hotels, hospitals and others. Dry cleaning operations are covered in separate OSHA standards.
  • Risks to laundry workers include the potential for fire, exposure to bloodborne and other pathogens, proximity to steam pipes, and more.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements for laundry machinery and operations are found at 1910.264. This regulation applies to moving parts of equipment used in laundries and to conditions peculiar to this industry, with special reference to the point of operation of laundry machines. Affected employers may include hotels, hospitals, or other operations that include laundry services. This regulation does not apply to dry-cleaning operations.

Employers must inform workers of any hazards and provide training in safe work practices. Doing laundry may require handling heavy loads and using detergents or other cleaners in much higher volumes compared to home use. In addition, the heat created by machines, along with flammable lint given off by laundry, creates the potential for fire. A build-up of lint on surfaces (especially on heat-producing equipment) can be a fire hazard. Cleaning surfaces to remove lint and regularly emptying lint traps helps reduce fire hazards. Employers should provide instruction on housekeeping and maintenance procedures, and review any fire prevention plans.

For laundry operations:

  • Each washing machine, drying tumbler, and double-cylinder shaker or clothes tumbler should have a means to hold open the doors or covers of inner and outer cylinders or shells while being loaded or unloaded. This requirement does not apply to shakeout or conditioning tumblers where the clothes are loaded into the open end of the revolving cylinder and are automatically discharged out of the opposite end.
  • All steam pipes that are within 7 feet of the floor or working platform, and with which the worker may come into contact, must be insulated or covered with a heat-resistive material or must be otherwise properly guarded.
  • Where pressure-reducing valves are used, one or more relief or safety valves must be provided on the low-pressure side of the reducing valve, in case the piping or equipment on the low-pressure side does not meet the requirements for full initial pressure. The relief or safety valve must be located adjacent to, or as close as possible to, the reducing valve. Proper protection must be provided to prevent injury or damage caused by fluid escaping from relief or safety valves if vented to the atmosphere. The vents must be of ample size and as short and direct as possible. The combined discharge capacity of the relief valves must be such that the pressure rating of the lower-pressure piping and equipment will not be exceeded if the reducing valve sticks or fails to open.
  • Workers handling soiled clothes must be warned against touching the eyes, mouth, or any part of the body on which the skin has been broken by a scratch or abrasion, and cautioned not to touch or eat food until their hands have been thoroughly washed.
  • Employees must be properly instructed as to the hazards of their work and be instructed in safe practices, by bulletins, printed rules, and verbal instructions.
  • No safeguard, safety appliance, or device attached to, or forming an integral part of any machinery may be removed or made ineffective except for the purpose of making immediate repairs or adjustments. Any such safeguard, safety appliance, or device removed or made ineffective during the repair or adjustment of such machinery must be replaced immediately upon the completion of such repairs or adjustments.