Safety Toolbox Talks

Good Housekeeping

From TV shows and ads, we sometimes get the impression that concern over “tidiness” is a rather amusing character trait. When a homemaker gets all shook up about “waxy yellow buildup” on the kitchen floor or water spots on the glassware, we chuckle and shake our heads, wondering how people can get upset about something so minor compared to the big issues most off us have to worry about.But the importance of good housekeeping is not a joke to anyone who wants to avoid the hazards presented by sloppy habits.

But the importance of good housekeeping is not a joke to anyone who wants to avoid the hazards presented by sloppy habits.

In addition to encouraging poor attitudes, poor housekeeping can lead to:

  • 1.
    Slips from slick or wet floors, platforms, and other walking and working surfaces
  • 2.
    Trips from objects or materials that are left in walkways and work areas
  • 3.
    Falls from holes in walking and working surfaces, uneven flooring, uncovered pits or drains, and boxes and pallets that are used instead of adequate platforms
  • 4.
    Collisions caused by poorly stored materials, overhanging or protruding objects, haphazard spotting of pallets, and use of aisles for storing materials and equipment

Good housekeeping , on the other hand:

  • 1.
    Eliminates accident and fire causes
  • 2.
    Saves energy by eliminating the need to work “around” congested areas and “deadwood” stored in the work area
  • 3.
    Makes the best use of space and allows for cost-effective “just-in-time” inventory management
  • 4.
    Helps control property damage
  • 5.
    Encourages better work habits
  • 6.
    Reflects an image of a well-run operation

Point of Order!

Housekeeping is more than just sweeping the floor and wiping off the machines and equipment. Although cleanliness is an important part of housekeeping, and contributes to a healthful workplace, there is another often overlooked but very important part: order. A work area is in order when there are no unnecessary objects in the area and when all necessary items are in their proper places. Saying that “we have a place for everything is in its place” does not necessarily mean that a workplace is in order, however. For example:

  • Do you use your production area for storage or keep supplies in the area because “they’ll be needed one of these days?” If there is one item in an area that is unnecessary or not in its proper place, then you do not have order.
  • Do you and other workers “tidy up” your stations by jumbling tools, materials, and unfinished product together in bins that fit neatly under the workbenches? This is neat, but not orderly-and certainly not safe.

Furthermore, you cannot put an area in order and then forget about it. A conscious effort by everyone in the work area is necessary to maintain order. After all, if works being done, some disorder is being created-even if it’s only the accumulation of materials, tools, and scrap. This maintenance effort must go on throughout the day, too. If you wait until the end of the day (or shift), how orderly where you during the working hours when order is most important?

Getting with the Program

A good housekeeping program must include careful planning, a cleanup schedule or policy, effective inspection, and continuous enforcement of housekeeping rules.

Inspect your area for unnecessary tools, equipment, parts, materials, and supplies; items that are not needed should be sent to the storage room or used for salvage.

Reorganize the storage area in your workplace. Establish one or more storage areas for holding finished products and daily quantities or raw materials and supplies; storage areas should not obstruct aisles and work areas.

Create a daily cleanup policy and program. Periodically review housekeeping rules cleanup policies, and procedures.

Order results in greater and safer production of better products at lower costs. This means increased business and prosperity for our company-and for you, its employees.


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