To some people the term “housekeeping” might bring to mind thoughts of cleaning floors, scrubbing surfaces, or removing dust and clutter. In a workplace however, it has a much more significant meaning. Apart from giving the work environment a pleasant and organized look, boosting employee morale and productivity, it is also a leading factor in preventing injuries and eliminating many of the common risks and hazards in any work area.
So what exactly can you do to ensure good workplace housekeeping?
- Prevent slips, trips, and falls hazards through timely removing equipment and tools being used and storing them in their designated locations, as well as cleaning surfaces and walkways from any spilt liquids that can be spread around the entire work area if not properly handled (leading to a large number of slipping and falling accidents). Good housekeeping protocols also ensure proper clearing of obstacles along pathways to prevent tripping hazards.
- Eliminate fire hazards by keeping unneeded flammable materials away from the work area and stowing them safely away from ignition sources. Measures should also be taken to prevent obstructions around walkways, fire doors, and emergency escape routes at all times.
- Prevent falling objects by ensuring tools and equipment used at heights are adequately secured. It’s often good practice to use toe boards or safety nets when applicable to protect workers or equipment below. Extra measures should also be taken when stacking materials and boxes by keeping them at safe distances from shelves, desks, or tables. Some rules of thumb state that heavier items should always be stored on lower shelves, and refrain from stacking objects in walkways and worker passages.
- Clear clutter to prevent workplace ergonomics issues. As crowded spaces tend to restrict correct body movements (workers are forced to incorrectly twist their bodies instead of moving their whole bodies for example). Tight workplaces also lead to cut and laceration injuries.
- Create written rules and procedures to ensure everyone takes part in housekeeping. It should become a workplace strategy to always return tools and equipment to their designated storage locations after each use. Set restrictions against leaving a work area unorganized or untidy.