Maintenance and repair orders don’t stop because a technician is out with a work-related injury,” says Karen D. Hamel, technical education manager for New Pig Corp., a supplier of liquid management solutions to industrial, institutional and government facilities. “What’s worse is determining that the injury could have been prevented with something as simple as good housekeeping.”
Good workplace housekeeping — routine maintenance and upkeep — reduces injuries and accidents, improves morale, reduces fire potential and can even make operations more efficient, note officials at W.W. Grainger, a supplier of maintenance, repair and operating products. Workplace housekeeping should be an integral part of every company’s loss control program.
OSHA makes reference to housekeeping in several health and safety standards contained in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR). Per these regulations, all places of employment, passageways, store rooms and service rooms must be kept clean and orderly, and in a sanitary condition.
In order to ensure that proper workplace housekeeping is maintained, a continuous process of housekeeping should be incorporated into all processes, operations and tasks performed in the workplace, advises Grainger. Furthermore, the company says each worker needs to understand that workplace housekeeping is an integral part of the job and not merely a supplement to work he/she already performs. As workplace housekeeping becomes a standard part of operations, less time and effort are needed to maintain it at an appropriate level.
Workplace housekeeping levels are most easily maintained if they are completed throughout the day as needed. At the end of the shift, all areas should be thoroughly cleaned in preparation for the next day or the following shift.
Prevent Slip-and-fall injuries
Leaks and spills that aren’t cleaned up promptly create slippery floors and track messes throughout the shop, leading to slips, trips and falls — the second leading cause of workplace injuries and lost work time, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) finds that slip-and-fall accidents account for more than 1 million hospital visits annually. It encourages workers to quickly report safety issues, such as a wet floor or equipment malfunctions, to a manager to prevent accidents and keep employees in the workplace.
Employers that proactively encourage safety have the potential to significantly reduce injuries. “Identifying slip-and-fall hazards isn’t complicated. Just follow liquids through the shop and look for areas that are untidy,” Hamel says. “Although every shop has unique hazards, fluid dispensing stations, work areas and waste collection sites are common locations for leaks, spills and clutter.”
Creating and utilizing a floor safety plan that identifies hazards and includes good housekeeping practices, proper footwear, signage and cleaning materials can help reduce slip and fall injuries by up to 90%, she notes.
Develop a Floor safety plan
Like most changes, it takes some time and effort for good housekeeping and safety changes to become habits. Hamel recommends the following elements to help a floor safety plan succeed:
Clean-up supplies and barriers. “Whether it is a dust pan and broom to sweep up metal shavings and dust, or absorbents to clean up spills near a waste oil tank, if clean-up supplies are not readily available, people will not use them,” Hamel points out. “Few people will take the time to go to the other end of the building to get the supplies they need. Making them readily available where spills or messes happen encourages faster response.”
She adds, “Likewise, having traffic cones or other barrier devices readily available can help divert traffic or people away from a hazardous area until it can be cleaned up or the hazard corrected.”
Signage. “Signs help to reinforce safety, identify hazards and help people know where to find things,” says Hamel.