In the workplace, ‘good housekeeping’ is the term used for keeping the worksite clean, neat, and free of hazards that can cause injury. This isn’t just a matter of appearances – it’s a serious safety issue. In fact, we can easily earn OSHA’s “seal of disapproval” – a citation for safety standard violations – for failure to practice good housekeeping. There are, of course, other advantages to good housekeeping. A neat, clean workplace makes it easier to find things, which saves time and increases productivity. It’s a more pleasant place to work, which improves morale. But remember, the real reason for good housekeeping is safety.
In a recent year over 400,000 reported injuries were the result of poor housekeeping causing slips and falls; 35 percent of all lost workdays were caused by injuries due to slips and falls. A cluttered workspace can also be a firetrap. Poor housekeeping creates more places for fires to start and provides fuel for fires to feed on. In fact, many industrial fires are the direct result of accumulations of oil-soaked, and paint-saturated clothing and rags. If there is a fire, clutter can prevent a quick and safe exit and restrict access to fire extinguishing equipment.
Clutter on the job is not only dangerous, it is counterproductive. Quality on the job is hard to maintain when the workspace is crowded and messy. Housekeeping clutter can grow like vines, but it can only grow where it’s allowed to grow. When last week’s clutter is still in our midst to be stumbled over or pushed aside, the system has broken down. A clean workplace should be a common concern for all, but it must be established as such. Identifying common concerns help promote cooperation.
Nobody said housekeeping safety is fun, but it’s part of the job and if you let clutter accumulate then you’ve got to get out the machete and that is a chore. Teamwork is the key to a clean work area and housekeeping-safety. Everyone must do his or her part and realize that housekeeping is a shared responsibility. Remember that good housekeeping reduces accidents, improves morale, and increases efficiency.
Results of Poor Housekeeping Practices:
- Injuries, when employees trip, fall, strike, or are struck by out-of-place objects;
- Injuries from using improper tools because the correct tool can’t be found;
- Lowered production because of the time spent maneuvering over and around someone else’s mess, and time spent looking for proper tools and materials;
- Time spent investigating and reporting accidents that could have been avoided;
- Fires due to improper storage and disposal of flammable or combustible materials and wastes;
- Substandard quality of finished products because of production schedule delays, damaged or defective finishes, ill-equipped employees, etc.;
- Lack of future work due to a reputation for poor quality; and
- “Wall-to-wall” OSHA inspections due to the poor “first impression” of the compliance officer.
General Housekeeping Rules to Remember Are:
- Plan your work.
- Clean up after yourself. Pick up your trash and debris and dispose of it properly, or place it where it will not pose a hazard to others. Institute a routine cleaning schedule.
- Keep your work area clean throughout the day. This will minimize the amount of time needed to clean a “larger mess” at the end of the day.
- Dispose of combustibles and flammables properly. If improperly discarded, they will increase the potential for a fire.
- Clean up all oil spills as soon as possible to minimize spreading.
- Stack materials and supplies in an orderly manner and secure them so they won’t topple.
- Do you value your health and safety, your work reputation, as well as your future employment? If you do, practice these general housekeeping rules.
Housekeeping is a safety concern that is often overlooked or taken for granted. But far too many accidents happen because people didn’t keep their work areas neat and clean. Poor housekeeping also increases the dangers when evacuating the workplace in an emergency. Housekeeping isn’t something to be swept under the rug. It is a legitimate and important safety issue.
KEEPING YOUR WORK AREA CLEAN…PREVENTS HAZARDS HIDING UNSEEN!!
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