Essential Risk Management Practices for Dry Cleaning Businesses

Published: 17/05/2024

Essential Risk Management Practices for Dry Cleaning Businesses

Managing risk is essential for dry-cleaning business owners to protect their investment, ensure operational efficiency, and sustain long-term growth and profitability. There's a lot to consider when it comes to hazards in the dry-cleaning industry, from unexpected mishaps to everyday operations.

Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to safeguard your business. In this guide, we'll share some smart strategies tailored specifically for dry cleaning businesses on how to actively manage your risks.

Identify your risks

The first step in managing workplace hazards is to understand the unique risks associated with your dry-cleaning business. Your risks could include property damage, liability claims, employee injuries, equipment breakdowns, and loss of business income due to unforeseen circumstances such as fire or natural disasters.

Create policies and processes to manage your risks

Once you have identified and assessed your risks you are then able to develop processes and policies to incorporate into everyday operations to actively minimise them. Your risk management policies should also take into consideration how to manage any accidents if they were to happen. This will help to contain accidents, reducing their scale and impact.

Here are some of the top risks for dry cleaners and how you can manage them:

  • Due to the machinery's high temperatures and gas heating, as well as flammable chemicals and a build-up of lint from fabrics, the risk of fire occurring in dry cleaning businesses is quite high. This can be managed by a number of actions, such as cleaning the dryer's lint trap after every load; ensuring the load goes through the cooling cycle before removing the linen from the dryer; investing in dryers that have a built-in automatic fire suppression system; getting your machines serviced by a reputable laundry technician at least twice a year; having your dryer ducts cleaned at least once a year; as well as consulting with a HVAC technician or laundry technician to confirm your laundry ducts have been installed correctly and are being vented into the right area. Unfortunately, if these things go unchecked there are little to no warning signs until it's too late. Having fire safety equipment installed such as smoke alarms, a sprinkler system and fire extinguishers is also recommended.
  • In addition to maintaining your equipment, it's also important to invest in the right equipment to begin with. By purchasing from a reputable distributor, not only will they supply high-quality machinery but they will have the knowledge and know-how to make a tailored recommendation to suit your needs and your shop fit out. For example, hard-mount washing machines are appealing because of their lower price tag, but many are unaware they should not be installed on anywhere other than the ground level of a building, and onto a generous slab of concrete. This is because these industrial machines send the shock waves of the washer during a cycle into the ground. If installed incorrectly it can compromise the structure of the building, leaving you to cover the costs of repair to the building as well as replacing your machines.
  • Dry cleaning businesses should also take care to manage personal injury in the workplace. Personal injury can occur from a slip caused by water on the floor, a burn from the hot dryer, or repetitive strains and injuries from manual labour. Non-slip surfaces are a great way to minimise falls; safety signage can inform staff of hazards; plinths for machinery can ensure equipment is installed at ergonomic heights; and regular safety training for staff to instil a safe work culture are all ways personal injury can be reduced for both staff and customers.
  • Dry cleaners regularly use toxic chemicals, the most common being a solvent called perchloroethylene (PERC). These chemicals can be harmful to people and the environment if not handled and disposed of properly. We recommend visiting the website of your state or territory's Environmental Protection Authority for detailed information on how to manage PERC and any other dry-cleaning chemicals, as well as your legal responsibilities in regard to these. The NSW EPA have put together a comprehensive guide here. There are also alternative dry-cleaning chemicals available that are less toxic that you may wish to consider using instead.

Put your policies into action

Identifying your risks and establishing policies are great but they are only effective if they are actively managed and performed in everyday business operations. One of the most effective ways to integrate risk management into everyday work processes is to educate your staff with regular training. Regular training gives staff the opportunity to learn through repetition as well as to understand why processes need to be followed this way. Signage around the store can also act as helpful reminders to staff.

Why Dry Cleaners need insurance

Regularly maintaining equipment, implementing safety protocols, and providing employee training can all help reduce the likelihood of accidents and hazards for dry cleaning businesses. However, it is impossible to completely eliminate your risks. Dry Cleaners Insurance is crucial for protecting your business for when the unexpected happens. By providing your business with financial security, you can operate your business confidently with peace of mind.

Engage with a knowledgeable insurance broker

An experienced insurance broker will take the time to assess your individual risk requirements and exposures [Read: Beyond Algorithms: Why Insurance Brokers Offer a Distinct Advantage]. Without the right cover, you could be putting your business and personal finances at risk. A good insurance broker will find the best level of protection for your unique business at a competitive price. They act on behalf of your business, not the insurer, so when you need to make a claim, they will work for you to get your maximum payment.

Update your insurance as your business evolves

As your dry-cleaning business evolves and grows, so do your insurance needs. Periodically review your insurance coverage with your provider to ensure it still adequately reflects the current state of your business. For example, if you've recently expanded your operations or added new equipment, you may need to adjust your coverage limits accordingly. By staying proactive and keeping your insurer informed of any changes, you can avoid potential gaps in coverage and ensure you're not paying for more insurance than you need.

Key takeaways

Effective risk management is vital for the success and longevity of a dry-cleaning business. In an industry prone to various challenges, proactive risk management is fundamental for a thriving dry cleaner. Embracing a comprehensive risk management approach empowers dry cleaning business owners to navigate uncertainties confidently, capitalise on opportunities, and cultivate a resilient and prosperous enterprise. Engaging with a reputable insurance broker to find you the most suitable cover at a competitive price ensures your business is financially protected for when the worst happens.

How Coverforce can help

Learn more about our dry-cleaning insurance solutions here and request a quote online today. If you have any queries about potential claims, your insurance needs, or ways to manage your risk more effectively, please contact your local Coverforce Office and see how we can help your business.

The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact Coverforce directly.

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