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The Saskatoon (Canada) Health Region (SHR) recently decided to close permanently its central laundry facility following a safety-related incident and the subsequent identification of infrastructure deficiencies at the facility.
According to the Canadian OH&S News, four bags of laundry totaling 1,225 kilograms that were attached to a hoist fell about three meters into laundry transfer carts, stated Linda Walker, a media relations consultant with the SHR. There were no injuries and washing and drying operations at the facility were shut down at the time.
According to Walker, it was determined that a bolt which attaches the mechanical system of cables and pulleys to the hydraulic cylinder came loose and fell off. "We were told the bolt and the shaft threads show no sign of wear or stress point damage from tension of the lifting system," she says. "It is likely that it loosened over time due to vibrations."
An assessment of the facility by VFA Inc identified a number of infrastructure deficiencies, including those related to fire protection, accessibility, asbestos abatement, and ergonomics of the equipment, ventilation, the electrical system and age of the equipment.
"The safety of Saskatoon Health Region employees is more important to us than keeping this facility open," says Bonnie Blakely, vice-president of people strategies with the SHR, in a statement.
Walker noted that the health region is considering a number of long-term solutions. They include building a new facility, remodeling the existing building or expanding nearby facilities to better meet the needs of the 48,000 square foot facility, which serves the three hospitals in Saskatoon and some long-term care homes in the province.
Walker adds that the affected employees – 56 full-time workers, 17 part-time and 27 casual workers – will be redeployed within the health region.
Glennis Bihun, executive director of the occupational health and safety division of Saskatchewan's Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, says that an active investigation into the incident continues. A stop-work order with regards to the lifting device was also issued, she adds.
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