This is Week 1 of National Safety Month. The topic for the week is “Stand Up for Falls.”
Below you will find a graphic and a segments of an article written by Sarah Trotto regarding housekeeping – a key to preventing slips, trips, and falls.
The article is attached for your review. Please convey these 11 tips during a Safety Meeting this week.
11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping
Every worker plays a part
To some people, the word “housekeeping” calls to mind cleaning floors and surfaces, removing dust, and organizing clutter.
But in a work setting, it means much more. Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors, according to Cari Gray, safety consultant for the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation. It also can help an employer avoid potential fines for non-compliance.
The practice extends from traditional offices to industrial workplaces, including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that present special challenges such as hazardous materials, combustible dust and other flammables. Experts agree that all workplace safety programs should incorporate housekeeping, and every worker should play a part. In addition, housekeeping should have management’s commitment so workers realize its importance. Here are 11 tips for effective workplace housekeeping.
#1 Prevent slips, trips and falls
Slips, trips and falls were the second leading cause of nonfatal occupational injuries or illnesses involving days away from work in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To help prevent slip, trip and fall incidents, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety recommends the following:
- Report and clean up spills and leaks.
- Keep aisles and exits clear of items.
- Consider installing mirrors and warning signs to help with blind spots.
- Replace worn, ripped or damage flooring.
- Consider installing anti-slip flooring in areas that can’t always be cleaned.
- Use drip pans and guards.
In addition, provide mats, platforms, false floors or “other dry standing places” where useful, according to OSHA. Every workplace should be free of projecting nails, splinters, holes and loose boards.
#2 Eliminate fire hazards
The National Safety Council “Supervisors’ Safety Manual” includes these precautionary measures for fire safety:
- Keep combustible materials in the work area only in amounts needed for the job. When they are unneeded, move them to an assigned safe storage area.
- Store quick-burning, flammable materials in designated locations away from ignition sources.
- Avoid contaminating clothes with flammable liquids. Change clothes if contamination occurs.
- Keep passageways and fire doors free of obstructions. Stairwell doors should be kept closed. Do not store items in stairwells.
- Keep materials at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers and sprinkler controls. The 18-inch distance is required, but 24 to 36 inches is recommended. Clearance of 3 feet is required between piled material and the ceiling. If stock is piled more than 15 feet high, clearance should be doubled. Check applicable codes, including Life Safety Code, ANSI/NFPA 101-2009.
- Hazards in electrical areas should be reported, and work orders should be issued to fix them.
#3 Control dust
Dust accumulation of more than 1/32 of an inch – or 0.8 millimeters – covering at least 5 percent of a room’s surface poses a significant explosion hazard, according to the Quincy, MA-based National Fire Protection Association. This dust accumulation is about as thick as a dime or paper clip.
#4 Avoid tracking materials
Work-area mats – which can be cloth or sticky-topped – should be kept clean and maintained. This helps prevent the spread of hazardous materials to other work areas or home, Gray said. Check all mats to ensure they are not tripping hazards.
#5 Prevent falling objects
Gray noted that protections such as a toe board, toe rail or net can help prevent objects from falling and hitting workers or equipment.
Other tips include stacking boxes and materials straight up and down to keep them from falling, said Paul Errico, a Fairfield, CT-based safety consultant. Place heavy objects on lower shelves, and keep equipment away from the edges of desks and tables. Also, refrain from stacking objects in areas where workers walk, including aisles.
Keep layout in mind so workers are not exposed to hazards as they walk through areas, Norton added.
#6 Clear clutter
A cluttered workplace can lead to ergonomics issues and possible injuries because workers have less space to move, Gray said.
Keep aisles, stairways, emergency exits, electrical panels and doors clear of clutter, and purge untidy areas. Empty trash receptacles before they overflow.
#7 Store materials properly
According to OSHA’s Materials Handling, Storage, Use and Disposal Standard (1926.250), storage areas should not have an accumulation of materials that present hazards for tripping, fire, explosion or pests.
#8 Use and inspect personal protective equipment and tools
Wear basic PPE – such as closed-toe shoes and safety glasses – while performing housekeeping, Gray said. Determine what type of PPE to don based on the potential risks.Regularly inspect, clean and fix tools, according to CCOHS. Remove any damaged tools from the work area.
#9 Determine frequency
All workers should participate in housekeeping, especially in terms of keeping their own work areas tidy, reporting safety hazards and cleaning up spills, if possible.
Before the end of a shift, workers should inspect and clean their workspaces and remove unused materials. This dedication can reduce time spent cleaning later, experts say.
#10 Create written rules
Experts agree that housekeeping policies should be put in writing. That way, Norton said, they are formal and defined. Written protocols could specify which cleaners, tools and methods should be used.
#11 Think long-term
Housekeeping should be more than a one-time initiative – it should continue through monitoring and auditing. Keep records, maintain a regular walkthrough inspection schedule, report hazards and train employees to help sustain housekeeping. Set goals and expectations, and base auditing on those goals, Gray said.
Together, we can Keep Each Other Safe.