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Safety Management Insights

Job Safety: How to Get Your Workers to Care About Housekeeping

Posted by Don Brown on Oct 29, 2014 10:00:00 AM

job_safety_housekeepingSometimes we take it for granted that we work with grown-ups. Then we walk onto the production floor to find cleaning supplies scattered on the floor, stray extension cords running in all directions and ladders haphazardly leaning against a wall. 

For reasons we may never understand, some workers just can’t seem to clean up after themselves. Maybe they’re not used to doing it around their own homes, or they’re so caught up in the task at hand they overlook the mess they leave behind. 

Whatever the case, there’s no excuse for bad housekeeping.

A poorly maintained workspace causes tripping hazards. Wet surfaces cause workers to slip. And stray tools can easily fall when employees are working from heights, injuring those below. 

If you feel like the parent who’s always lecturing his teenage son to straighten up his room, here are three job safety tips for getting your house in order. 

#1 - Make Your Housekeeping Policy Known

You require your employees to sign off on all your policies before they start work. Good housekeeping may be an implied part of that, but it should be clearly stated. 

Your workers need to know you’re serious about it and there will be consequences if they don’t clean up their act. That includes:

  • Keeping all walkways clear

  • Preventing slick surfaces by using absorbent mats or drip pans to contain leaks, and using mops or squeegees as needed

  • Keeping all hoses secured when not in use  

  • Properly manage extension cords so they are clearly marked and not a trip hazard 

  • Reducing dust with dust collection systems and filters

  • Using proper ventilation for combustible dusts in compliance with OSHA 29 CFR 1910.94

  • Securing all tools with lanyards when working at heights above six feet

#2 - Inspect Frequently

Housekeeping should be built into your regular audits. Consider using an auditing software if you don’t already have one. This makes auditing much easier by allowing you to upload existing audit documents and create new ones customized to include the areas you want to pay close attention to. 

BasicSafe’s audit software allows you to schedule recurring reminders of when audits are due and upload photos or other supporting documents along with your completed audits. That could include photos of poor housekeeping you noticed while making the rounds. 

#3 - Recognize Good Housekeeping Efforts

While you’re taking photos, consider posting them in a prominent place so workers can see them. You could create a housekeeping “wall of shame” that shows examples of the worst workspaces. Employees will be more motivated to clean up if they know others are watching.

But don’t forget to recognize good efforts, too. Consider sharing some “wall of fame” photos next to the wall of shame and offering small incentives for those who demonstrate a commitment to good housekeeping. This could be coupons for the employee cafeteria or a nearby restaurant, a free cup of coffee or recognition in an employee newsletter. 

Bad housekeeping habits can be hard to break, but all good habits start with someone who leads by example. Continue to reinforce good housekeeping until it’s second nature to your workers. 

For more tips on cultivating a safer workplace, download our free guide, “9 Ways to Make Your Job As Safety Manager Easier.”

9 Ways to Make Your Job as a Safety Manager Easier

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