In the workplace, good housekeeping means keeping the worksite neat, clean and free of hazards that can cause injury or illness. This isn’t just a matter of appearance – it’s a safety issue.
“Housekeeping at work is as important as at home, especially if you want to work in a safe workplace,” Aviance Oden-Britt, Garrison occupational health and safety specialist, said. “People who try to function daily in an untidy, cluttered work environment often have lower morale and a higher chance of getting hurt. The safety implications of poor housekeeping in the workplace are critical. Poor housekeeping may result in employee injuries or even death.”
Oden Britt said keeping the workplace clean is an essential part of workplace safety. To maintain a safe and healthy workplace, housekeeping must be a priority. Poor housekeeping can present hidden hazards that may cause accidents, including tripping on loose objects in walkways, being hit by falling objects, and slipping on wet or dirty surfaces.
“Housekeeping in a work environment means more than just dusting off shelves or running a mop across a floor,” Oden-Britt said. “Proper housekeeping in workplaces ensures a safe work environment and can go a long way to make sure employees injuries are infrequent. Every workplace safety program has a place for housekeeping and depends largely on getting help from employees and a commitment from management. When the workplace is maintained in a clean and orderly manner, hazards and unsafe conditions that have the potential to cause serious injury – not only to the employee but to others in the surrounding area – are prevented.”
She shared some general housekeeping rules to remember:
Cluttered workplaces can present danger. For example, a cluttered office that is filled with boxes, equipment, paper, files, or other items on the floor, blocking doors, and under furniture, will slow egress and could hamper or prevent occupant escape in the event of a fire or other emergency.
Keeping storage areas uncluttered reduces the chances of blocking egress areas as well as slips, trips and falls. Accumulated debris can cause fires, and clutter slows movement of people and equipment during fires.
Maintaining clean light fixtures and air filters to improve lighting efficiency and air quality improves the overall ambience in a work area.
Keeping tools and equipment clean and in good shape and keeping hoses and cables or wires bundled when not in use helps prevent passing on germs or disease and the possibility of slips, trips and falls.
Broken glass should be picked up immediately with a broom and dustpan, never with bare hands.
Dispose of flammables and combustibles properly. This will decrease the potential for fire.
Clean up after yourself. Pick up your trash and debris and throw it away. If you can’t do this right away, place it where it will not pose a hazard to others. Initiate a routine cleaning schedule in your area and clean your workspace throughout the day to minimize having to clean a larger mess at the end of the day.
Be aware of open cabinet drawers, sharp corners, protruding nails or other sharp objects in work areas. Keep the safety of others that may come into your area a priority.
It is imperative that tools, equipment and materials are properly secured and disposed of once you have completed a project.
Oden-Britt said good housekeeping is everyone’s responsibility.
“Don’t assume that someone else is going to clean up a mess or take the proper precautions,” she said. “Either correct the unsafe condition if you can and it’s safe to do so or notify the person responsible for overall maintenance that something should be done. Remember, if you are complacent about housekeeping, you may become insensitive to poor practices and become unable to identify hazards, putting yourself and others at risk of injury. Make it your business to remove hazards from the workplace.”