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Good Housekeeping Is Safety Job One

Cleaning up is usually not a task many people enjoy.  Whether it’s washing the dishes after a big meal or scrubbing the shower, most people would rather put off until tomorrow what they should be doing today.

The same is true for housekeeping at work.  Employees get involved in the day-to-day routine, always intending to clean up but never quite doing it.  Sometimes, they make a half-hearted attempt at sweeping aside some paper, but it doesn’t attack the real problem.  That’s because the problem with poor on-site housekeeping goes beyond just hygiene.  Lack of regular housekeeping can actually be the catalyst for injury.

Employers should establish a routine housekeeping program and designate someone to administer it and to ensure employees follow it consistently.  If a housekeeping program is going to be truly effective, management must show they have enough commitment to the program to formalize it and have a designated overseer.

This kind of strict adherence to good housekeeping practices will lower your company’s accident rates, which in turn lowers costs for medical claims and workers’ compensation.  Fewer injuries occur when there is sufficient work area for employees to move freely while doing their jobs.  Fewer injuries can also lead to increased production.  When work areas are hazard-free and supplies and equipment are orderly, workers can perform their jobs more efficiently with little down time spent looking for what they need.

A clean workplace also helps workers think more clearly.  If employees know they will be able to access what they need to perform their jobs, a major source of stress in the workplace is eliminated.  Work becomes less like “work” and much more enjoyable.  As employees find themselves less burdened with concerns about being physically able to get the job done, it boosts their morale, in turn increasing production and quality of their output.

What should you include in your on-site housekeeping program?  The California State Compensation Insurance Fund recommends the following:

• Neatly arrange small parts, tools, cords, hoses, and equipment

• Close drawers and cabinet doors when not in use

• Store materials and supplies away from edges and at a stable height

• Clean up liquid spills and tracked in water, mud, and snow, which could cause a slip and fall

• Properly store or dispose of oily rags or flammable liquids

• Put scraps or debris in available trash containers

• Keep aisles, walkways, platforms, and stairways clean, clear, and dry

• Insure easy access to fire extinguishers, safety equipment, and emergency exits

The most important lesson to teach employees is that following good housekeeping practices is an ongoing process that every worker should adhere to each and every day.  Once good housekeeping practices become a part of your workplace culture, it will take less time and effort to follow them because they will be second nature to your employees.