Thursday, January 14, 2010

The most underrated key to workplace safety

In some workplaces, good housekeeping tends to fall at the end of the priority list for both management and employees. But that’s a problem because there is a direct correlation between a clean, neat, well-organized workplace and a safe healthy one.

Good, safe housekeeping doesn’t just happen. Nor is it something you can focus on once a month and forget about. It’s a daily mission that must be tackled with energy, focus, and purpose. You have to plan for it, involve employees in it, and sustain it. But if you do, the rewards are substantial—fewer accidents, greater productivity, and a more pleasant, healthy working environment for all.

Essentials of an effective housekeeping program:

· Regular dirt and dust removal.

· Adequate employee facilities, such as wash rooms and locker rooms.

· Proper maintenance of walking and working surfaces.

· Maintenance of lighting fixtures.

· Attention to aisles and stairways to make sure they are kept clear.

· Spill control.

· Proper storage of tools and equipment.

· Effective waste disposal.

· Organizing and cleaning storage areas.

The maintenance of buildings and equipment may well be the most important element of good housekeeping. "Maintenance involves keeping buildings, equipment and machinery in safe, efficient working order and in good repair." This includes maintaining sanitary facilities, regularly painting and cleaning walls, and fixing broken windows, damaged doors, defective plumbing, and damaged floor surfaces.

One of the toughest jobs you face in implementing an effective workplace housekeeping program is selling employees on its benefits. But the benefits are many, so try sharing these with your workers:

· Fewer accidents and injuries.

· Fewer fire hazards.

· Fewer slip, trip, and fall hazards.

· Reduced exposure to hazardous substances.

· Improved efficiency and productivity.

· More efficient equipment cleanup and maintenance.

· Better control of tools and materials, including inventory and supplies.

· Reduced handling to ease the flow of materials.

· Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health.

· More effective use of space.

To achieve these benefits regularly, we suggest integrating housekeeping responsibilities into employees' jobs. This helps ensure that these duties are faithfully fulfilled.

An effective housekeeping program identifies and assigns responsibilities for:

· General workstation cleanup during and at the end of each shift.

· Daily housekeeping duties for the entire work area.

· Removal of scrap and unused materials.

· Proper storage of tools, materials, etc.

· Inspection to ensure housekeeping duties are completed and done properly.

Never underestimate the impact of poor housekeeping standards on health and safety performance. It is often the underlying cause of most slips, trips and falls in the workplace. Start your year by clearly defining housekeeping requirements and allocating responsibility for maintaining a clean and tidy workplace.

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