In all too many workplaces, good housekeeping tends to fall at the end of the priority list for both management and employees. However, this creates a problem because there’s 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 that you can do once a month and forget about. You and your employees must tackle a daily mission with energy, focus, and purpose. You have to plan for it, involve employees in it, and sustain it. Nevertheless, if you do, the rewards will be substantial: Fewer accidents, greater productivity, and a more pleasant, healthy place for all to work.
Poor housekeeping can frequently contribute to accidents by hiding hazards that cause injuries, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS). If the sight of paper, debris, clutter, and spills is accepted as normal, then other, more serious health and safety hazards might be taken for granted.
For employees to become willing and enthusiastic supporters of the program, they need to understand that housekeeping duties, rather than being bothersome chores (which is probably the way most of them think of them now), are fundamental to their own safety and health. Make housekeeping a part of everyone’s job: No matter what other tasks employees perform, each of them should also take responsibility for keeping the workplace clean, organized, and safe.
Be sure to motivate workers by using such reminders as regular safety meetings, signs, posters, and incentives, together with performance credits for housekeeping duties. Set aside daily times for these tasks and supervise employees closely.
To maintain a safe workplace, housekeeping really has to become a habit. That’s where checklists come in. These lists should include:
- Floors, aisles, stairways
- Cords, cables, hoses, cartons, and other tripping hazards
- Dust, dirt, and grease
- Clutter, scrap, and trash
- Tools and equipment
- Storage areas
- Flammable and combustible materials
- Waste disposal
- Work surfaces
- Entry and exit areas