Workplace housekeeping is often taken for granted, which is an injustice. A clean work environment offers multiple advantages. It encourages productivity and high morale, it makes a good first impression on visitors, and it plays an important role in safety. Here’s how even common housekeeping can improve workplace safety.

  1. Preventing Falls  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, slips, trips and falls are the second leading cause of non-fatal injuries in the USA. Simple and routine housekeeping helps keep your workplace clutter-free, so workers can safely navigate through the worksite.
  2. Fire Prevention  When a workplace requires the use of flammable materials or produces combustible waste, housekeeping is essential. All combustible waste must be stored in covered metal receptacles and disposed of every day. A safe storage area is required for flammable materials, and employees should only have access to the amount of flammable materials needed to complete their job.  Even in traditional office settings, housekeeping helps prevent fires. Passageways and fire doors must be kept clear of obstacles. Stairway doors should be closed, and stairwells should never be used for storage.
  3. Proper Storage  When boxes, equipment, or other items are improperly stored, they can shift or fall, causing injury. Proper housekeeping stores items as securely as possible:
    1. Toe and rail boards, along with nets, prevent items from falling.
    2. Boxes and other materials should be stacked straight up and down.
    3. Heaviest objects should be stored on the lowest shelves.
    4. Items should be stacked and stored away from general work areas.
  4. Dust  In industrial settings, dust is much more than an irritant. In large amounts, dust becomes an explosive hazard, and only regular housekeeping can keep it under control.  Vacuuming is the preferred method for removing dust from floors, walls, ceilings, and equipment. Sweeping is an alternative, and in some circumstances workplaces are washed down.
  5. Preventing “Tracking”  Keeping work areas clean and well-maintained reduces the risk of hazardous materials “tracking” to other work areas or outside the work space. In many cases, employees who work with toxins should not wear work clothes home to prevent cross-contamination and protect public health. Housekeeping may require different cleaning procedures for different work areas to prevent tracking.

Personal Responsibility

Even if you have a full-time janitorial staff, employees should assume primary responsibility for housekeeping in their work area. Each employee should leave the work area as clean as possible, and report safety hazards or housekeeping issues immediately.

To ensure everyone understands their responsibilities, create a written housekeeping procedure manual. Doing so prevents confusion concerning who has responsibility for a specific aspect of housekeeping.