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Engineering Controls Database

Control of Ergonomic Hazards in Commercial Dry Cleaning

Ergonomic risk factors increase the threat of injury to the musculoskeletal system of the worker. Musculoskeletal disorders are caused by repetitive motions, awkward postures, excessive reaching, and precision gripping. In the dry cleaning industry, ergonomic risks occur during garment transfer, pressing, and bagging. These activities, combined with a high work rate and frequency, may cause physical discomfort and musculoskeletal problems for workers.
Musculoskeletal disorders that can be caused by the repetitive motions, awkward postures, excessive reaching, and precision gripping necessary in the dry cleaning industry can cause disorders including damage to tendons, muscles, nerves and ligaments of the hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, neck, and back.
Work Station Design
Much of the equipment used in dry cleaning shops is nonadjustable. Redesigning workstations will eliminate the need for excessive reaching and many awkward postures. Some dry cleaning equipment manufacturers are beginning to market adjustable height workstations.

Work Organization
Frequent rest breaks and worker rotation may be used as a temporary measure to control the hazards of repetitive tasks or when engineering changes are not technically feasible.

Garment Transfer
Use dry-to-dry dry cleaning machines that eliminate garment transfer. In shops with transfer machines, train workers to modify their work techniques by handling no more than 15 to 20 lb of clothing during the transfer operation.
Modify the workplace to reduce the amount of bending and reaching required by the operator. For example, place the bottom of clothing carts at least 16 in. off the ground; preferable, use clothing carts with spring-loaded bottoms to raise the clothes to 16 in. as the cart is unloaded. Position the cart to reduce reach distances and, consequently, stress on the back and shoulders.

Multi-press Stations
Use utility presses that permit vertical and horizontal adjustment at the point(s) of operation.
Place hand iron platforms near the worker to reduce excessive reaching. Attach the iron to a suspension or counterbalancing device to reduce the amount of weight lifted y the presser.
Use proximity sensors (i.e. infrared, presence sensing devices) instead of two-handed controls to reduce stress on the fingers.
Use thick, closed-cell silicone floor mats with a beveled edge to reduce leg fatigue and minimize tripping hazards.

Shirt Pressing Stations
Position the height of cabinet bag sleever hand controls close to the point of operation to reduce excessive reaching.
Use proximity sensors instead of dual-hand activation buttons to reduce stress on the worker’s fingers.
If possible, use a “button pulling” device/tool to aid the worker in pulling the collar button through the button hole. This device would reduce the repetitive pinch postures necessary during manual pulling.

Garment Bagging Areas
Use vertically adjustable bagging poles with a hydraulic pedal control system. Maintain bagging poles in good working condition by ensuring they are straight and lightly lubricated with non-staining oil.

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Figure 1

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Figure 2
201-11A; 201-12A; 201-13A; 201-13B; 201-14A; 201-15A; 201-16A; 201-17A; 201-18A; 201-19A; 240-11; 240-12; 240-13; 240-14; 240-15; 256-16B; 256-17B; 256-18B; 256-19B;
NIOSH [1997]. NIOSH Report: Control of health and safety hazards in commercial drycleaners: chemical exposures, fire hazards, and ergonomic risk factors. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-150.
dry cleaning
garment transfer