When combating, dealing with and cleaning any spills at work – from acid spills to chemical spills to liquid spills – it’s easy to assume that the most important tool in your spill cleanup arsenal is a good, environmentally sound absorbent product. But in actuality, there is one thing that’s even more important than your absorbent product: your housekeeping abilities.
Why? Because while a good absorbent product will effectively clean a spill (without harming your worker’s health or the environment once it’s been disposed of), good housekeeping skills will effectively remove some or most of the workplace hazards you may encounter on the job; this then helps you get your job done safely and efficiently, without ever needing to deal with a spill and the dangers it poses.
So what exactly does the term “housekeeping” mean when referring to a worksite? While the term may make you think about seasonal cleaning around the home, there are some key differences between how we clean our homes and worksites. According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety when practicing “housekeeping” at work the goals of doing so should include:
- Keeping work areas neat and orderly
- Maintaining halls and floors free of slip and trip hazards
- Removing of waste materials (e.g., paper, cardboard) and other fire hazards from work areas
- Paying attention to important details such as the layout of the whole workplace, aisle marking, the adequacy of storage facilities, and maintenance
And to help meet those goals, workers should consider housekeeping an ongoing task – because while homes can wait for their seasonal cleaning, worksites need constant attention if the people who use them want to stay safe.
While you may be thinking that the last thing your worksite needs is a new daily assignment, neglecting housekeeping duties for a day can lead to workers:
- tripping over loose objects on floors, stairs and platforms
- being hit by falling objects
- slipping on greasy, wet or dirty surfaces
- striking against projecting, poorly stacked items or misplaced material
- cutting, puncturing, or tearing the skin of hands or other parts of the body on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping
On the other hand, sticking to a housekeeping schedule can lead to:
- reduced handling to ease the flow of materials
- fewer tripping and slipping accidents in clutter-free and spill-free work areas
- decreased fire hazards
- lower worker exposures to hazardous substances (e.g. dusts, vapours)
- better control of tools and materials, including inventory and supplies
- more efficient equipment cleanup and maintenance
- better hygienic conditions leading to improved health
- more effective use of space
- reduced property damage by improving preventive maintenance
- less janitorial work
- improved morale
- improved productivity (tools and materials will be easy to find)
Our opinion is that while housekeeping may sound like more work at first, in actuality it’s just a way you and your fellow workers can standardize basic safety procedures at your worksite – and that makes it a necessity!
Want to learn more about worksite housekeeping and about what goes into an effective plan? Visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety’s website and get started on your new and improved worksite’s housekeeping plan!