This week’s Safetip is about establishing and maintaining a good housekeeping program to eliminate some workplace hazards.
Housekeeping Is More Than Cleaning
In the context of occupational safety and health, housekeeping refers to keeping work areas clean, neat and orderly; making sure that floors are free of slip and trip hazards; and removing paper/carboard waste and other materials that can create fire hazards. Good housekeeping is also about paying attention to the workplace layout, aisle markings, storage facilities and maintenance. As the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS) says, “Effective housekeeping is an ongoing operation. It is not a hit-and-miss cleanup done occasionally.”
Here are some of the ways in which effective housekeeping improves occupational safety and health:
- Reduced handling of hazardous materials.
- Work areas with no clutter or spills, leading to fewer accidents due to slips and trips.
- Decreased fire hazards.
- Lower worker exposures to hazardous chemicals (e.g. dusts, vapors).
- Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health.
What Are the Components of a Housekeeping Program?
According to CCOHS, a good housekeeping program plans and manages the orderly storage and movement of materials from point of entry to exit, to ensure minimal material handling. The plan also ensures that work areas are not used as storage areas. Ineffective or insufficient storage planning results in materials being handled and stored in hazardous ways.
Worker training is also an important part of an effective housekeeping program. Workers need to know how to work safely with the products they use. They also need to know how to protect other workers by posting signs (e.g. for slippery floors), reporting unusual conditions, etc.
CCOHS also emphasizes that cleaning and organization must be done regularly, not just at the end of the shift. Integrating housekeeping into jobs can help ensure this is done. Be sure also to perform inspections to check for flaws in the housekeeping program.
Visit CCOHS’s webpage on workplace housekeeping for more details on the following elements of an effective housekeeping program:
- Dust and Dirt Removal
- Employee Facilities
- Maintenance of Light Fixtures
- Aisles and Stairways
- Spill Control
- Tools and Equipment
- Building and Machinery Maintenance
- Waste Disposal
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