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Former OSHA Inspector to Speak at Safety Summit

A renowned leader in the national dialogue on safety and health who rose to the top leadership post in OSHA’s inspection corps, Richard Fairfax will keynote TRSA’s Fourth Annual Safety Summit, May 13-14 in St. Louis. Fairfax was a deputy assistant secretary of labor in his final OSHA role, speaking for the agency both internally and externally on wide-ranging issues.  

Now a lecturer, editor and consultant, Fairfax earned more than 30 Secretary’s Honor Awards and a Distinguished Career Service Award from the Labor Department. In 2007, he received a Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service for his sustained accomplishments in consistently demonstrating strength, integrity and a relentless commitment to public service.

Fairfax is among a host of experts at the Summit from outside and inside the textile services industry who will provide practical, hands-on analysis of trends, issues and techniques for creating and maintaining a corporate safety culture. For the second year, the Summit will be presented in conjunction with the CSC Network, the national alliance of independent launderers.

Working in OSHA regional offices in Savannah, GA; Concord, NH; and Seattle for 16 years, Fairfax shifted to the national OSHA office in Washington, DC, in 1994. Two years later, he became deputy director for compliance, overseeing general industry and maritime enforcement and federal agency programs. Later he would direct compliance assistance and construction industry standard development. 

His Summit presentation will examine the rules most frequently cited as violations in the agency’s inspections of textile services facilities in recent years. He’ll also offer recommendations for compliance with major regulations that impact the industry (bloodborne pathogens, lockout/tagout, inorganic lead, permit-required confined space, machine guarding, etc.) as well as key national consensus standards (NFPA 70E).

Other speakers on the Summit agenda include Bo Cooper, safety director, Alberici Constructors, St. Louis. His presentation will enable attendees to evaluate the applicability to their laundry operations of institutional and behavioral methods used by this $2-billion corporation with 1,200 employees. Alberici is consistently among America’s top 60 U.S. construction companies. The organization was honored by EHS Today magazine as one of America’s safest companies in 2013 and received two Willis Construction awards, recognized as the industry’s premier safety honors, in 2014.

Cooper will focus at the Summit on safety leadership from the roles of top management to front-line supervisors in fostering and mentoring a safe workforce. He’ll share his experience in union contract negotiation and arbitration related to health and safety issues, OSHA compliance and negotiations, workers’ comp case management and safety culture development.

A Summit general session on job station improvements and safe body mechanics will be provided by Sonia D. Lopez, president and CEO, Action Onsite Inc., Calimesa, CA. She will bring attendees up to speed on proactive approaches for controlling and preventing injuries in aging workers, new hires and current employees.

Lopez will share her company’s principles of workstation design using best practices for shoulders, lower back, lifting/carrying and job rotation. She’ll also explain her new hire orientation “boot camp,” a regimen that includes wellness lessons, body mechanics, flexibility, stretching and conditioning. Action Onsite provides ergonomic observations and assessments of workstations, fostering a culture of safety awareness and proper work methods to promote a team environment in which employees and management look out for each other.

The Summit agenda also includes a Textile Services Executive Management Perspectives panel featuring company presidents and CEOs who will explain their corporate commitments to developing a safety culture with continuous improvement and an objective of zero incidents. Fairfax will moderate the panel. Panelists committed to date are TRSA Chairman Doug Waldman, president, Superior Linen Service, Tulsa, OK; Todd Schneider, president and CEO, Uniform Rental Division, Cintas Corp., Mason, OH; Alden Senior, managing director, Morgan Services Inc., Chicago; and Mark Spence, COO, Faultless Laundry Co., Kansas City, MO.  

Breakout session topics are:

  • Behavior Based Safety
  • Driver Safety and Telematics
  • Safety and Productivity in Bloodborne Pathogens Compliance
  • Managing Injury Claims: Little Steps, Big Impact

Summit activities begin Wednesday, May 13, with event check-in at 3 p.m. at the host hotel, the Embassy Suites Downtown in St. Louis. Participants will enjoy the Embassy Suites guest reception early that evening and breakfast the following morning, with education sessions running from 7:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. on Thursday. Visit for more details.