Good housekeeping is more than a matter of making a work area look nice. It should be an integral part of every workplace safety program. A clean, organized workplace is not only something that you achieve, it is something you and your employees must maintain.
Be Aware of These General Hazards
1: Dirt and dust — Dirt and dust are everywhere! Regular vacuuming can help. Sweeping is another option. However, while in the process of sweeping, a lot of dirt and dust can become airborne. When possible, it is a better idea to use a wet process, such as mopping. Finally, shelves and work surfaces should be cleaned manually.
2: Spills — The best way to deal with spills is to prevent them. Drip pans and guards, for example, can keep certain machines from dripping oil and other liquids directly onto the floor. Smaller spills, such as spilled coffee, are more common. Whatever the spill, it needs to be cleaned up immediately. Be sure you have the appropriate equipment on hand, and talk to your employees about the proper procedures. Hazardous waste spills are in a class by themselves, and require special handling.
3: Waste disposal — Set up appropriate waste receptacles as close as possible to the area where the waste is being generated. You may need special containers for rags doused with oil, paint or other flammables and combustibles. Also, regular collection is essential. Typically, waste containers are emptied on a daily basis into a larger dumpster. Make sure you know the schedule for dumpster pickup and check to see that it is followed.
Prevent Slips, Trips and Falls
4: Floors and walls — Make sure loose tiles, worn carpets and slippery floor surfaces are corrected and keep floors and walkways clear. Avoid using an aisle as a temporary storage place or setting up a work table or piece of equipment in such a way that it obstructs a natural path of travel. It is especially important that walkways leading to emergency exits are free of clutter. Potential obstacles or tripping hazards need to be visible.
5: Light fixtures — Keeping light bulbs and fixtures clean improves their ability to illuminate. In addition, dirty or dusty light fixtures can be a fire hazard.
6: Tools and other equipment — Dirt, dust, oil, and grease on power tools may create electrical hazards. In addition, improperly stored tools can create problems. For example, a tool with a sharp blade that is left unprotected can cause a serious cut. Tossing a box cutter or knife into a drawer can do the same.
Remember Storage Concerns
7: Storage — If you have a storage area where boxes or pallets are stacked, make sure the stacks are stable and not too high. Ensure boxes are properly labeled and kept clear of sprinkler systems and walkways. Boxes should be stored at about waist level and as close to their ultimate destination as possible. Finally, pay special attention to flammables, combustibles, toxic substances and other hazardous materials that require special storage and handling.