One of the key ways to have a safer work environment and avoid workplace injuries is through regular housekeeping and tidying up.
Though businesses are not required to have written housekeeping procedures, keeping a tidy and organized workplace makes the job of safety compliance easier. Insurers conduct inspections fairly routinely and a messy workplace sends signals that safety may not be a real priority, besides making the workplace more hazardous.
Orderliness minimizes obstacles and potential safety and health threats such as spills and trip hazards. Here’s how to get started on a housekeeping program for your printing facility or warehouse.
Your written program should set standard procedures for daily, weekly, monthly and even annual clean-up procedures.
You should develop specific tasks and expectations for each different work area. For example, office housekeeping procedures would differ drastically from housekeeping concerns in the warehouse, and loading dock areas may have different needs than production or distribution.
Here’s what your policy should cover:
Cleaning and organization – Cleaning and organization must be performed throughout the day, not just at the end of the shift. Integrating housekeeping into jobs can help ensure this is done. A good housekeeping program identifies and assigns responsibilities for the following:
- Clean-up during the shift
- Day-to-day clean-up
- Waste disposal
- Removal of unused materials
- Inspection to ensure clean-up is complete. This also allows you to identify deficiencies in the program so you can make changes.
Maintenance – You should schedule regular maintenance of buildings, equipment and machinery to ensure they are in safe, efficient working order and in good repair. It includes maintaining sanitary facilities and regularly painting and cleaning walls.
It also means fixing broken fixtures, defective plumbing and broken walking surfaces, all of which can result in injury to your workers.
Dust and dirt removal – Regularly sweep, mop or vacuum all areas of your facilities. You may need a regular vacuum cleaner for offices and carpeting, industrial models for warehouses and production areas, and special-purpose vacuums for removing hazardous products.
Surfaces – Poor floor conditions are a leading cause of incidents, so cleaning up spilled oil and other liquids at once is important.
Allowing chips, shavings and dust to accumulate can also cause incidents. Trap them before they reach the floor or clean them up regularly to prevent accumulation.
Areas that cannot be cleaned continuously, such as entrance ways, should have anti-slip flooring. Keeping floors in good order also means replacing any worn, ripped or damaged flooring that poses a tripping hazard.
Light fixtures – Dirty light fixtures reduce essential light levels. Clean light fixtures can improve lighting efficiency significantly.
Aisles and stairways – Keep aisles and stairways clear by removing any items that impede or prohibit movement.
Spill control – When spills do occur, it is important to clean them up immediately. Absorbent materials are useful for wiping up grease, oil or other liquid spills. Used absorbents must be disposed of properly and safely.
Tools and equipment = Tools require suitable fixtures with marked locations to provide an orderly arrangement. Returning tools promptly after use reduces the chance of them being misplaced or lost. Any stray tools not in use should be put in their proper place.
Workers should regularly inspect, clean and repair all tools and take any damaged or worn ones out of service.
Waste disposal – Waste should be disposed of on a daily basis, and not be allowed to accumulate in work areas where it can pose a tripping or slipping hazard.
Place containers near to where waste is produced.
Storage – Inventory, parts, supplies and other inputs (like paper in a printing facility) need to be stored in a manner that does not cause a danger to employees. Stockpiles should not interfere with work.
Stored materials should not obstruct aisles, stairs, exits, fire equipment, emergency eyewash fountains, emergency showers or first aid stations. All storage areas should be clearly marked.
The last word
Housekeeping procedures demand input from all employees if they are to be specific to each area. Have the people who work in each area identify the main housekeeping issues for you.
Once you have received the input from employees, you can draft final copies of the housekeeping procedures and distribute for final approval or for actual use. You should hold a safety meeting with staff in each department, so workers know what their housekeeping duties are.