Why Is This Important?
In every workplace, you have one thing, one universal thing that keeps everything safe and in motion. Yes, risk assessments. One large part of risk assessments is ensuring that anything that could be a hazard, is minimized so that it is less hazardous.
In order to minimize hazards in the workplace, we practice good housekeeping and do checks to make sure everything is in order.
While housekeeping as a practice sounds like the practice of ensuring everything is clean, it means that you also have to keep areas clean, free of trip or slip hazards, the safe removal of waste, and ensure there are no fire hazards.
You should also be paying attention to the careful detailing of everything, including storage, walkway markings, and basic building maintenance.
A workplace is an ecosystem, like the rainforest, and everything has its place in the successful functioning of a working environment.
These things should be done on a regular basis, as part of a constant operation. Doing clean-ups occasionally or when you notice things are looking a bit haphazard is ineffective in reducing the amount of incidents there may be.
So, it’s time to practice good housekeeping and get those checks done!
The Purpose Of Workplace Housekeeping?
So, why do we do this? No workplace will survive with a plethora of unmaintained hazards. Housekeeping is simply the practice of minimizing hazards through careful control and efficient practice.
If you do not practice housekeeping efficiently you can start to see incidents happening.
These can include.
- Loose objects can cause tripping.
- Falling objects may hit people.
- Wet or dirty surfaces may cause slips.
- Projecting nails, steel strapping, wires etc. may cause cuts, punctures, or tears of skin.
- Poorly stacked items or misplaced materials may fall or strike people.
Maintaining these hazards throughout each workday will help to avoid them. You do need management and planning, and this is where risk assessments and task management comes in.
Good housekeeping has many benefits, most of all the safety of workers and customers alike.
- There will be fewer trips and slips in areas free of clutter and spillage-free areas.
- There will be a decrease in the amount of fire hazards.
- Less janitorial work will be required.
- Work morale will be improved.
- Productivity will be improved.
- More hygienic conditions will result in better health.
- Less exposure to hazards for employees.
- Use of space is more effective.
There are many more benefits for this, but let’s move on, so you can start putting together your plan.
Putting Together A Plan.
The best way to put together a plan starts with observation. You need to ensure that your storage areas are used adequately, and they do not require workers to move materials to and from different areas
You should also invest in extra waste bins to have a better disposal system. Of course, this investment can be costly, but this can be rectified by eliminating repetitive handling of the same material.
Ineffective storage planning can result in materials being handled too often and stored in less-than-safe ways.
You should also look into worker training as a part of your program, so your workers know how they can work safely with products. This type of housekeeping is maintained and not achieved, so remember it must be regular practice by everyone.
You can integrate housekeeping jobs into your plan, and designate particular jobs to particular members of your team. These should include the following jobs;
- Inspecting cleanup to ensure it is complete.
- Efficient waste management and disposal.
- Removal of unused materials.
- Day-to-day cleaning.
- Cleaning during shifts.
Remember to keep in mind the out-of-the-way places such as shelves, sheds, boiler rooms, and basements that often go forgotten.
Aspects Of A Good Housekeeping Program.
Let us now go over individual areas of housekeeping and checks. These are just some of the areas in which you should be prioritizing. Remember though, every workplace is different.
Some jobs are more hazardous than others, and thus need additional rules. These, however, are the basics to cover.
Thus, we are starting off with basic maintenance.
This means that the building(s) and equipment need to be considered as the most important part of housekeeping. This means you need to keep the building(s), machinery, and equipment all in safe working order and in good condition.
This means you need to maintain any sanitary facilities, clean walls, and repaint walls. Any broken windows, defective plumbing, leaks, floor surfaces, and doors with any damage need to be fixed.
Any conditions in which these things are neglected can cause incidents and affect practice. Even if it does not look too bad things can escalate quickly, so act quickly.
Dust & Dirt Removal.
While ventilation can help to remove dust and dirt, it will not collect all of it. Similarly, vacuums are suitable for removing light dust and dirt, however, industrial models are usually the best.
You can also get special vacuums that are good for removing hazardous products. A vacuum with a HEPA is best for us with fiberglass and asbestos.
It is also important that you use proper PPE when cleaning areas that are heavily dusty or dirty, especially with particular industries. It can be beneficial to wear gloves, a mask, and in some cases, goggles too.
Facilities For Employees.
Employee facilities are significant. You should have staff restrooms, and a locker area that is safe and secure for employee personal possessions. Employee restrooms should be cleaned once per shift, with a hefty supply of soap, towels, disinfectants, and so on.
If your employees work with hazardous products, then these facilities should also provide showers, washing facilities, and changing rooms.
Using locker areas can help prevent the contamination of street clothes, and if working in the food industry, lockers will prevent work clothes from being contaminated also. You should also ensure that the staff eating areas are separate from working areas, and it should be cleaned after each shift.
Floors should be maintained, this means fixing any chips in surfaces. Dust, spills, shavings, and so on should be cleaned promptly, and ideally should be caught before they reach the floor.
You should also keep floors in good order and ensure that the flooring is the correct type for the work being carried out.
Light colored walls will get dirty easily, but they will also reflect light. Think about the heat in the area and paint accordingly. Paint can also highlight railings and safety equipment so paint accordingly.
Housekeeping for Tools.
Toolbox talks have much to say about the safe storage and handling of tools. Yet, we will say that you need to keep tools and equipment safe. Always return tools after use to prevent losses and issues.
Always inspect, clean, and repair tools. If a tool is damaged, you should take it out of service.
Ensure tool storage areas are safe, clean, with proper fixtures, and adequate markings.
It is better to prevent spills than to clean them up. Always clean and maintain machines to help avoid spills, and also use drip pans and guards where you can.
If a spill does happen, clean it up immediately with the adequate equipment and be sure to leave a sign informing others of the spillage.
Clean light fixtures, as a dirty light releases less light than it should. Cleaning lights improves efficiency.
Ensure that all walkways are wide enough to accommodate people and vehicles. Ensure that people can move through with ease.
Ensure to provide signs and mirrors in blind corners, with proper signage and a clear system.
Arrange walkways adequately to prevent shortcuts through hazardous areas.