ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- To some people, the word housekeeping denotes cleaning floors and surfaces, removing dust and organizing clutter.In a work setting, it means much more.Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale.Good housekeeping can also can help an employer avoid potential fines for non-compliance.The practice extends from traditional offices to industrial workplaces, including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that present special challenges, such as hazardous materials, combustible dust and other flammables.Workplace safety programs should incorporate housekeeping and every worker should play a part.In addition, housekeeping should have management’s commitment, so workers realize its importance.Here are some tips for effective workplace housekeeping.Prevent Slips, Trips and FallsSlips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Walking-Working Surfaces Standard (1910.22(a)) states all workplaces should be “kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.”The rule includes passageways, storerooms and service rooms. Floors should be clean and dry. Drainage should be present where “wet processes are used.”To help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents, the following is recommended:• Report and clean up spills and leaks.• Keep aisles and exits clear of items.• Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots.• Replace worn, ripped or damaged flooring.• Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.• Use drip pans and guards.In addition, provide mats, platforms, false floors or “other dry standing places” where useful, according to OSHA.Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards.Eliminate Fire HazardsEmployees are responsible for keeping unnecessary combustible materials from accumulating in the work area.Combustible waste should be “stored in covered metal receptacles and disposed of daily,” according to OSHA’s Hazardous Materials Standard (1910.106).The National Safety Council’s “Supervisors’ Safety Manual” includes these precautionary measures for fire safety:• Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are unneeded, move them to an assigned safe storage area.• Store quick-burning, flammable materials in designated locations away from ignition sources.• Avoid contaminating clothes with flammable liquids. Change clothes if contamination occurs.• Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells.• Keep materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls. The 18-inch distance is required, but 24 to 36 inches is recommended. Clearance of three feet is required between piled material and the ceiling. If stock is piled more than 15 feet high, clearance should be doubled. Check applicable codes, including Life Safety Code, ANSI/NFPA.• Hazards in electrical areas should be reported, and work orders should be issued to correct them.Control DustDust accumulation of more than 1/32 of an inch – or 0.8 millimeters – covering at least five percent of a room’s surface poses a significant explosion hazard, according to the National Fire Protection Association.This dust accumulation is about as thick as a dime or paper clip.NFPA 654 – a standard on preventing fire and dust explosions – addresses identifying hazard areas, controlling dust and housekeeping.The standard states that vacuuming is the “preferred” method of cleaning. Sweeping and water wash-down are other options. “Blow-downs,” using compressed air or steam, are allowed for inaccessible or unsafe surfaces. Industrial vacuums can clean walls, ceilings, machinery and other places.Prevent Falling ObjectsProtections, such as a toe board, toe rail or net can help prevent objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment.Other tips include stacking boxes and materials straight up and down to keep them from falling.Place heavy objects on lower shelves and keep equipment away from the edges of desks and tables. Also, refrain from stacking objects in areas where workers walk, including aisles.Clear ClutterA cluttered workplace can lead to ergonomic issues and possible injuries because workers have less space to move.When an area is cluttered, you’re more likely to have a cut or laceration injury.You don’t have as much room to set up your workstation the way you should.You’re going to be twisting your body, rather than moving your whole body.It is recommended that workers:• Return tools and other materials to storage after using them• Dispose of materials no longer needed.• Keep aisles, stairways, emergency exits, electrical panels and doors clear of clutter, and purge untidy areas.• Empty trash receptacles before they overflow.Store Materials ProperlyAccording to OSHA’s Materials Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal Standard (1926.250), storage areas should not have an accumulation of materials which present hazards for tripping, fire, explosion or pests.Some workers make the mistake of storing ladders or other items inside electrical closets, where they can block an electrical panel, creating a fire hazard and violating OSHA regulations.Unused materials and equipment should be stored out of the way of workers.Avoid using workspaces for storage, and remember to put everything back in its proper place.Determine FrequencyAll workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.Before the end of a shift, workers should inspect and clean their workspaces and remove unused materials. This dedication can reduce time spent cleaning later.