For some, a construction site being messy is simply a fact of life, but we certainly don’t agree, untidy sites are dangerous and there is no argument about that. Keeping your working area clean is equally important as completing the job to the highest standard.
It is very tempting to leave the items where they land as you work to save time, however imagine what could potentially happen if somebody trips over a cord or steps on the nail? It is crucial to clean up all of your scraps and equipment at the end of each and every day, or you have simply finished in the area, to ensure safety and cleanliness upon arrival each morning.
By working in the clean, organised area your productivity and efficiency will benefit as well as keeping clean and clear work area will make it safer for others around you. Even if the work is in progress, if a customer sees a messy job site, they can’t see the work you are doing and they might think less of the quality of work you are providing.
What is the purpose of workplace housekeeping?
Poor housekeeping can be a cause of incidents, such as:
• Tripping over loose objects on floors, stairs and platforms.
• Being hit by falling objects.
• Slipping on greasy, wet or dirty surfaces.
• Striking against projecting, poorly stacked items or misplaced material.
• Cutting, puncturing, or tearing the skin of hands or other parts of the body on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping.
• To avoid these hazards, a workplace must “maintain” order throughout a workday. Although this effort requires a great deal of management and planning, the benefits are many.
What are some benefits of good housekeeping practices?
Effective housekeeping results in:
• Reduced handling to ease the flow of materials.
• Fewer tripping and slipping incidents in clutter-free and spill-free work areas.
• Decreased fire hazards.
• Lower worker exposures to hazardous products (e.g. dusts, vapours).
• Better control of tools and materials, including inventory and supplies.
• More efficient equipment clean-up and maintenance.
• Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health.
• More effective use of space.
• Reduced property damage by improving preventive maintenance.
• Improved productivity (tools and materials will be easy to find).
Effective housekeeping can help control or eliminate workplace hazards. Poor housekeeping practices frequently contribute to incidents. If the sight of paper, debris, clutter and spills are accepted as normal, then other, more serious hazards may be taken for granted.
Good housekeeping is also a basic part of incident and fire prevention. Effective housekeeping is an ongoing operation: it is not a one-time or hit-and-miss clean-up done occasionally. Periodic “panic” clean-ups are costly and ineffective in reducing incidents.
Tips for keeping your work area on site tidy:
• Ask your team to tidy as they go: Encouraging your colleagues to tidy after they complete each job is a sure-fire way of making sure your site will remain clear and your team can remain as efficient as possible.
• Just because it’s not yours, doesn’t mean it’s not your responsibility! If you see anything lying on floors, stairways, passages that could cause people to trip and fall, pick it up and put it in a safe place – DON’T WAIT FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO MOVE IT.
• Check your work area at regular intervals – throughout the day and clear up as you go along. If trip hazards and mess is starting to build up, sort it out sooner rather than later.
• A safe work area includes access and egress. Do not leave materials/tools/benches etc in gangways/corridors where they might impede someone’s escape or cause a trip hazard (it might be you or a colleague who needs to get out in a hurry).
• Ensure that tools are put away after the job is finished: Avoid any potential mishaps with tools that aren’t needed by making sure they are stored straight after they are used.
• Make sure cables are out of the way: Trailing leads and cables are one of the worst offenders for causing trips. Ensure that they are positioned away from walkways, entrances, and exits to minimise their hazard to others.
• Store materials safely: If you are working on a project that will be ongoing, you will probably need to store your materials onsite for a prolonged period of time. The way you store them needs to be safe to avoid any chance of an accident — poorly stored materials can block access routes and potentially fall over, causing damage to property and injury to your team.
• When dust — and particularly silica dust — occurs, ensure you sweep this up immediately. Dampening the dust beforehand will reduce the number of airborne particles, preventing health issues.
• Avoid fire risks – make sure waste or the storage of materials does not build up in fire escapes as you may need to use these escapes at some point. Don’t allow waste materials to be stored close to sources of ignition. If all rubbish is regularly collected and put into the skip, in the event of the fire, the danger is confined and more easily dealt with.
• Separate your site’s waste – For the most part, cardboard, paper, and plastic can be recycled if they’re clean and untreated, but should all be separately stored and labelled to ensure clarity and efficiency. For most rubbish, a plastic industrial bin or skip will be fine. But, for hazardous waste like chemicals, an anti-corrosive metal bin will be best.
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