National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Getting up to date at Texcare
In the exhibit hall at the National Cleaners Association’s Texcare show last month, just about anything needed to running a cleaning business would be found — drycleaning, laundry and wetcleaning equipment, finishing units, boilers, hangers, solvents and stain removal chemicals, computers, bags and hangers, the list goes on.
And in the seminar rooms at the show, cleaners would learn the details on a host of upcoming requirements from the government — the Affordable Care Act, new OSHA rules, changes in the Care Label Act, changes in state rules for drycleaners in New York and New Jersey and a possible revision of National Fire Protection Association Code for Class III-A drycleaning plants.
The seminars in Secaucus kicked off with a presentation on “What To Do About Obamacare,” led by Michele A. Stoebling, vice president of human resources and employee benefits division for CLG Insurance. She walked participants through the maze of requirements for employers under the Affordable Care Act, especially for companies with 50 or more employees who could face penalties if they don’t provide health insurance for their employees.
Much remains to be sorted out it seems. “There are a lot of uncertainties still,” she said. “In the last six months, things have changed constantly. We are very much in an uncertain environment for healthcare.”
More certain are changes coming in OSHA regulations. A Dec. 1 deadline looms for training employees on the changes to the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard that results from adoption of the Globally Harmonized Systems (GHS) for the classification and labeling of chemicals.
“OSHA has always required a hazard communication program in businesses that handle chemicals,” explained Alan Spielvogel, NCA’s director of technical services, at a Sunday morning seminar. But with the new harmonized system coming, all employees will have to undergo training to be sure they understand the chemicals they may be exposed to.
The Material Safety Data Sheets,which address the physical, health and environmental hazards of each chemical, will be going away to be replaced by Safety Data Sheets (SDS) under the harmonized system.
While the new system begins Jan. 1, 2014, all chemical manufacturers and distributors have two years to become fully compliant, but employees are supposed to be trained by Dec. 1 so they understand what the SDS is trying to convey.
The SDS contains 16 headings in a standard format that is supposed to make it easier for employers and employees to find information on the products they are using. Pictograms are also be used on chemical labels and may be needed on spotting bottles, although Spielvogel said it isn’t clear yet what requirements may be for bottles.
At any rate, employees need to undergo training and sign-off on having done so. It will be a quick and costly violation if an OSHA inspector visits and the employer can’t show that this training has been done. While some drycleaners may never see an OSHA inspectors, Spielvogel said, two common triggers of an inspection are no uncommon: a complaint from a disgruntled employee or ex-employee or an accident in the workplace.
“This OSHA training is extremely important,” Spielvogel said. “God forbid you have an accident it could cost you tens of thousands of dollars by the time they walk out of there and there is no negotiating on those fines.”
To help cleaners satisfy the training requirement, NCA is offering an on-line program developed by Mike Tatch, a safety engineer and consultant, that should make the training relatively easy. The program was designed specifically for the drycleaning industry and is in English, Spanish and Korean. Information is available on the NCA web site,
Also on the regulatory front is revision of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) rules for drycleaning plants that use Class IIIA solvents — hydrocarbon, GreenEarth, K4, for example. Current regulations differ from one locale to another, Spielvogel said. “They are trying to standardize the regulations,” he said. One possibility is requiring sprinkler systems. Such sprinklers systems can costs tens of thousands of dollars, Spielvogel said.
“Agencies don’t understand the specific needs of drycleaners,” he said. “We want to educate them on how the machines work so they don’t get carried away.”