Skip to content

A clean sheet - the Holy Cross Laundry story

Holy Cross Laundry has set a new benchmark in the laundry industry. By working with the Injury Prevention and Management (IPaM) team they were able to design out many of the risks that existed in the old plant at Wooloowin when they moved their operations to the new location at Banyo.

View further information on working with IPaM to prevent workplace injuries while improving injury management outcomes.

Download a copy of this film (ZIP/MP4, 241MB)

BOB: The Sisters of Mercy founded the organisation in 1889.

BOB: We specialise in providing healthcare linen to the major private hospitals in the Brisbane area.

BOB: We employ about 150 people. Of those, 40 people have an intellectual disability.

MANDY: A few years ago, our WorkCover history was pretty dismal, to be quite honest. The culture wasn't the best it could be.

BOB: We were moving to a situation where our WorkCover claims were more than our annual surplus.

BOB: And we've been able to turn that all around.

STEVE: They've certainly done some great work in reducing the risks that they've got in their workplace

BOB: As a result of the strategies that we implemented, we reduced our claims by 85 per cent over a two-year period.


GRAPHIC: IPAM aims to assist employers who have had a significant claims history to bring down their claims costs and improve their injury prevention and management.

STEVE: There's been a huge commitment from senior management at Holy Cross Laundry to the IPaM process.

MANDY: We were very serious about it. It wasn't just about ticking a box for us. It was, we, we wanted to make these improvements. We wanted to do this work, and a bit more, whatever it took.

STEVE: So the IPaM program typically starts out with a range of assessments that we do with an employer.

MANDY: When we started with IPaM, their representatives came in, and did a, a walk-through of the, of the plant then we walked away with a number of items in that plant, to have a look at, and, and address.

MANDY: That formed the basis of our business plan under IPaM.

BOB: We were also able to look at how we benchmarked ourselves against other industries.

STEVE: They've also put a, a big focus on consulting with their staff

BOB: One of the first things that was undertaken, was a survey of staff on workplace health and safety issues.

MANDY: We did total risk assessments on every single piece of equipment that was in the laundry.

We had some corrective actions that fell out of that; and all of those corrective actions were addressed.

Part of that was training. Part of it was redesigning the equipment, or making adjustments to the equipment.

STEVE: So they had some significant risks, particularly in relation to manual tasks, traffic management.

MANDY: And it's just because of the nature of the work, you know. We're lifting heavy linen bags.

BOB: We launder, about 100 000 kilograms of laundry a week. The laundry comes in bags that weigh about 13 kilos.

MANDY: We're, we're pulling and tugging at linen. We're separating linen.

BOB: Trolley movement is a big issue.

MANDY: Manoeuvring of the trolleys, because that's a, a danger itself, where the trolleys can be heavy.

MANDY: We're moving trolleys all around the site, from one area to the next area.

STEVE: There were certainly some significant issues at Holy Cross Laundry due to the space constraints.

STEVE: Trolleys were being pushed around in, in tight, confined areas, which was leading to a lot of crush injuries, people getting fingers jammed between the trolley, and, and fixed structures, and people being struck by trolleys as well.

SONIA: Yeah. Me nearly lost my finger because, pushing the metal trolley.

MANDY: So we're just vulnerable in that area which we're very mindful of, and that's where we put a lot of our energies into training and awareness, to overcome that.

BOB: One of the other major things that we needed to do, was to change the culture in the organisation.

BOB: We've implemented toolbox talks…

We also use that as an opportunity to communicate various messages to our employees.

MANDY: We have processes in place, we want them not to be afraid to tell us if something's happened. We have a suggestions form. We have a fix-it form.

VISHNU: I can talk with Mandy, the people of HR. I can talk with Bob. I can talk with Patricia. She the supervisor from here. Yeah, I can talk so easily, and I feel so comfortable here.

BOB: We've looked at how the bags are handled, so that we can, as far as possible, reduce the weight of the bags on the individual.

MANDY: We extended the conveyor belt at the foot of the, the sorting area.

BOB: To enable bags to be dropped on to the conveyor, so people don't have to take the weight.

MANDY: It was right there. It was slightly raised. So we minimised the bending, the, the lifting, the, the pulling, the tugging, and all of that, that needed to happen. So, we sort of redesigned that area.

BOB: One of the issues that we've tried to address is, injury as a re-result of repetitious movement. So we need to make sure that we change our people round on various workstations, so that we don't have a scenario where people stand at the one station all day, and do the same task.

MANDY: With our trolleys, we do specific training induction in our manual handling training program, around having two people to manoeuvre a trolley.

BOB: We've also purchased a Newton Meter, which enables us to read the push/pull forces that are required to shift a trolley.

STEVE: They also had some issues with their loading docks, and, and people potentially falling off those loading docks.

BOB: So you might have a situation where a trolley could potentially roll off the side of a lifter

MANDY: So when we came to purchase new trucks, we sort of said, 'Well what can we do here, in the design of the truck, to improve that?'

BOB: We implemented a system whereby we had spring up rails on the side of the tailgate.

BOB: So when the tailgate was lowered, the side rails would, would come up.

STEVE: Holy Cross Laundry had some significant challenges, primarily due to the age of the workplace that they were working in.

MANDY: Again, not a purpose-built plant, so it 'is' ... it gets very hot in summer.

MURRAY: It's a fairly hot, sweaty environment here.

MANDY: The, the airflow isn't the best. Yes, we've got industrial fans. Yes, we've got everything that we can put in place, to make it as comfortable as possible. You know, during the very hot times, we take more breaks. The team members have ice pops.

MURRAY: Which we all appreciate, I'm sure! And you grab one, and then hide it behind your back, and say, 'Can I have another one? I haven't got one yet.'

STEVE: In the short term, Holy Cross Laundry has spent a lot of time reviewing the safe work procedures that they had in place at the time, and, and updating those; also spent a lot of time retraining staff.

MANDY: And then we look at where we are now, and we are in a much, much better place.

MANDY: And we've, we've done that through partnerships; with different people; with our external consultants; with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, with our team members, taking feedback on board. We've done all that to, to make those changes, be they big or small; be it the purchase of a piece of equipment, or be it some additional training.

MANDY: But, you never rest on your laurels, you know. If we've got one accident, or one injury in the workplace, it's one too many.

STEVE: In the long term, Holy Cross Laundry are moving to a completely new facility, that's been purpose-built.

BOB: I believe that the movement to the new laundry is just another phase in the refinement of the process that we've been through, to date.

MANDY: The management team here have been very hands-on in the design of that building, and the workflow of the building.

STEVE: They'll be able to design out a lot of those challenges that they were facing at their current location.

MANDY: Every consideration that we can possibly think of, every scenario that we can think of, has been built in to that laundry, to make it as safe as it can, as efficient as it can be.

RACQUEL: What I'm looking forward to in the new building is the change room. It's a big change room.

SONIA: We can dance in the toilet room, yeah.

ELLIE: More space, and new machines. And yeah, the dreams comes true, the vision.

BOB: I'm excited!

ONSCREEN TEXT: Several months later…

MANDY: Welcome to Holy Cross Laundry, Banyo. Let's go for a walk, and see if we ironed out some of those problems.

RAQUEL: It 'was' a good place to work in, but here is a lot better.

ELLIE: My favourite thing in the new laundry, is the trolley tipper, and, the bag hooker.

RACQUEL: My favourite things are the bag tracks and the new conveyor belts. Because it helps us not to lift those bags anymore.

BOB: Yes, what we've done here is, we've tried to remove as much manual handling as we can. We've got the largest overhead rail system in Australia, which is about 1.5 to 2 kilometres long.

MANDY: So, if you remember from Wooloowin, we had some manual handling concerns, because we were physically lifting the bags; and we've taken that away.

The trolley tipper now empties the bags on to a conveyor belt. The conveyor belt takes it on a journey to the bag rail system.

That takes it on a journey and it comes up here on 'this' platform to the, to the sorting deck.

When it's on the sorting deck just behind me, the team member just needs to loosen the cord.

So we've removed all of those manual handling concerns that we had.

MURRAY: We don't have to necessarily push and pull the big trolleys around the place.

MANDY: In our previous environment, we would be moving around, pushing trolleys from A to B. We now have conveyor belts that do that, not only in the main sort area, but in the, in the clean sort area as well. So we've reduced the amount of trolley traffic that is there.

RAQUEL: I think it's less chance of accidents, because we get more, a wider space to go through.

MURRAY: Environmentally, I think this place is a great improvement.

MURRAY: It's not as noisy here.

BOB: One of the things that 'we've' done, which hasn't been done before, is to isolate the driers from the rest of the plant.

Because they generate the most heat, lint, and noise. So we're trying to improve the working conditions.

MANDY: We've got a lot more natural light coming through. So we've deliberately planned that, so that's not just a, a tin shed that we're working in.

BOB: The roof's been designed so that we get a cross-flow of ventilation.

MANDY: We've got cooling systems near the, the sorting deck.

MURRAY: I'm certainly not losing anywhere near as much sweat as I used to, in the old place.

MURRAY: Certainly the amenities here are a great improvement on the old ones as well.

MANDY: The staff facilities are, are really important.

When our team have their breaks, we were able to offer them in this environment, a beautiful kitchen area. We have an outdoor alfresco area, so they can enjoy the days, and daylight, and fresh air.

MURRAY: The old locker room was very cramped…

…And the new locker room is great. I've got to admit, it's really good!

MANDY: It's all about mental health and wellbeing as well. It's not just about physical wellbeing.

BOB: So it's all about creating an environment that is harmonious, as much as we can get it.

BOB: I believe that the fall in the WorkCover claims, and the fall in the risk of injury, is indicative of the cultural change that's occurred within the organisation.

BISHNU: Keep up the good work, Bob! [laughs] Thank you!

BOB: It's not just me that's done it, everyone should be proud of what we've done here.

BOB: And also support from the Government, in terms of the Injury Prevention Management Program.

BOB: We were able to work with WHSQ, and call on 'their' knowledge base, to apply in our workforce.

STEVE: Employers are always introducing new processes in their existing workplaces; introducing new plant and equipment into their workplaces.

All of those types of changes are an opportunity to design out hazards that exist in your workplace.

MANDY: Everything that we've done has been about continuous improvement.

MANDY: So the take home message is, just have a look with fresh eyes around 'your' work environment.

Just listen to your staff. They'll, they'll tell you.

BOB: I believe that the new laundry will set a benchmark for how workplace health and safety practices can be adopted in a broad range of industries. And I think our, our operational model and financial model will continue to make the laundry financially viable, and a strong organisation, leading into the future.

MANDY: With a new site, brings new challenges and new issues for us; so we've already some risk management, risk assessments, in this site, so that we know now what lies ahead of us.

BOB: I think that there's another gear that we can lift up to.

BOB: The bottom line is, workplace health and safety improves your bottom line.

MANDY: It's only just beginning, nothings ending…

BOB: Last time, I was excited. Now, I'm ecstatic!


ONSCREEN TEXT: Work safe. Home safe.

ONSCREEN TEXT: For further information please visit:

ONSCREEN TEXT: Workplace Health and Safety Queensland thanks the following people and organisation for their participation in this film:

Bob Campbell
Raquel Edwards
Bishnu Gurung
Illi Harding
Steve Johnston
Murray Nattrass
Sonia Peroy
Mandy Ross

Holy Cross Laundry

ONSCREEN TEXT: Filmed in Brisbane,

RUN TIME: 13mins 28sec