Loss Control Insights
5 Surprising Benefits of a Clean and Organized Workplace
When you think of housekeeping, you might think of workers who come in after hours to empty trash cans and clean break rooms. Your organization’s housekeeping practices actually encompass much more and should involve everyone in your workplace.
Take a Look Around
As you survey your organization’s work areas, what do you see? Are the spaces tidy? Are the machines and tools used in those work spaces clean and stored for easy access? Or are work items stacked haphazardly on or under work benches and other surfaces, possibly covered with a layer of sawdust or grime?
As you examine your storage areas, are boxes stacked neatly and marked so that supplies are easy to find and remove when needed? Or do you see stacks of materials that are about to topple over?
Consider other areas and practices: How are chemicals stored? How often are floors cleaned? Are carpets and mats worn and raveling? Are trash cans in the areas where they are most needed? Is there evidence of rodent or insect activity?
These details are often overlooked. However, paying attention to these and other housekeeping details is crucial to your success. Here are 5 ways housekeeping can be beneficial to your organization.
1. Preventing Injuries—Slips, trips and falls are a leading cause of accidents. To prevent these accidents, it’s important to clean up spills and dust as soon as possible. Keep walkways and work areas clear of tools, clutter, supplies and potential hazards such as cords and hoses to prevent tripping. Even open cabinet doors or file drawers can be dangerous. Be on the lookout for projecting nails or poorly-stacked wood or metal materials. These sharp objects can cause cuts and lacerations. Cleaning up can also prevent rodent and insect infestations.
2. Preventing Fires—Fire was the top property loss for EMC policyholders in 2016. To prevent housekeeping-related fires, store flammable materials correctly; clean up spills, sawdust and other fine particles; keep evacuation routes clear and safe for employees; ensure that that sprinklers have 18 inches of clearance beneath; and that electrical equipment and electric panels have sufficient clearance.
3. Increasing Productivity—Tidiness can improve employee efficiency. If materials are stored where employees can find and easily access them, they won’t have to waste time searching for the necessary screws or blades. If workers begin their shift with clean, sharpened tools, replacement parts stored close by and a tidy workspace, they can efficiently complete the task at hand. In addition, cleaning up immediately, whether it’s replacing tools or cleaning up spills, is more efficient and often takes less time than making a special effort later.
4. Improving Morale—A tidy work environment can indicate that the entire workplace is well managed and creates a sense of calm and order. Workers will not get frustrated by having to search for the tools and materials they need to get the job done.
5. Meeting OSHA Requirements—Housekeeping practices fall under various OSHA rules so if housekeeping is a priority at your organization, meeting OSHA standards and inspections should be easier.
How to Achieve Good Housekeeping Patterns
- Let employees know that everyone, not just those with a “housekeeping” title, is responsible for workplace cleanup chores. Some tasks are daily, others are periodic, but good housekeeping is an ongoing process, not a one-and-done task.
- Provide marked storage areas for tools and equipment.
- Have a written plan, assigning tasks and indicating how often they need to be done. Ensure that all employees understand their responsibilities.
- Train employees to clean up as they go about their day and as their shift is coming to an end. Make it easy by providing brooms, bushes, vacuums and other cleaning materials. A checklist will help employees remember what needs to be done.
- Periodically audit all work and storage areas to ensure that daily, weekly and monthly tasks are being completed. Check to be sure that floors, mats, cords and hoses are all in good shape.
- Create a method for workers to report any possible dangers they notice while completing jobs or cleaning up.