28Apr 2016

Your Mother Doesn’t Work Here: Workplace Housekeeping

An Organized Workplace is a Safe Workplace.

Cleaning up after yourself is likely the best workplace safety advice your mother gave you.

Of course, your mother wasn’t thinking about cluttered construction sites or utility closets so packed with cast-off furniture and files they might catch fire. Still, the same principal applies: A place for everything and everything in its place.

There are many do’s and don’ts when it comes to organization, but some basic advice is universal.

Remember What Your Mother Told You

Clean Your Closet

Many businesses have at least one utility closet, data closet, or electric panel. They can become magnets for clutter that can lead to slips, trips, and falls.

Best practices to keep your closet safe:

  • Install racks or cabinets to secure equipment.
  • Maintain a minimum of 36 inches of clearance in front of electrical equipment and 30 inches of working space on each side.
  • Regularly clean floors and remove debris.

Find more information from Cal/OSHA on Housekeeping for Electric Panel and Utility Rooms in State Fund’s Safety News newsletter.

Only You Can Prevent Fires

An employer can spend money to improve workplace safety, but many fire hazards vanish with good organization.

Housekeeping tips for fire prevention:

  • Keep paper products, aerosols, and other flammables away from electrical equipment.
  • Avoid placing cords or cables under rugs and carpets and keep them away from heat sources.
  • Clear the clutter that provides fuel to fires and blocks emergency equipment, sprinklers, and exits.

You can find more information on State Fund’s Web site about how Employees Can Help Prevent Workplace Fires.

Your Tools Are Not Going to Pick Themselves Up

Construction sites have lots of tools and materials amidst a hive of activity from various work crews doing distinct jobs. The general contractor is ultimately responsible for safety, but in reality, everyone needs to pitch in. A basic rule of thumb is to clean up as you go and at the end of the shift.

Good housekeeping tips for construction sites:

  • Erase safety risks by keeping excess material and equipment off-site. Less storage means less to trip or knock over.
  • Ensure that tools and materials are stored neatly and out of the way in storage bins or lockers.
  • Use debris chutes to remove excess material from elevated work sites.

Find additional information on our Web site about Construction Site Hygiene and Housekeeping on Construction Sites.

Workplace housekeeping is everyone’s responsibility. It’s important that every worker understand that clutter is a potential safety hazard and each person is responsible for reporting or removing hazards.

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