We all remember getting in trouble as a child for leaving a toy at the bottom of the stairs, or in the middle of the floor. The upset parent, the stern talking to, and then being told the toy had better go back where it belonged or it would end up in the garbage.
Since childhood we have been taught to clean up after ourselves and not leave things laying around that others could trip on. So why does it seem so difficult to keep up good housekeeping practices on our Jobsites, in our Factories, and in our Fabrication Shops? It's important that as leaders we not only communicate the importance of housekeeping at the workplace, but also lead by example.
Proper housekeeping is a key factor in keeping workers safe and getting the job done on time with exceptional quality. While we may feel pressure to get our work completed on time or early, poor housekeeping practices actually make the worker's progress slower - needing to walk around piles of debris, searching for tools and materials, and unfortunately needing to visit the Health & Safety trailer to have a twisted ankle or cut treated.
Keeping up good housekeeping can help stop workers from:
Being struck by falling objects
Slipping on wet or greasy floors
Tripping over loose flooring, tools, stairs, and materials
Contacting poorly stored or stacked items
Cutting or slicing yourself on sharp objects, nails, wires or banding
Some benefits of having good housekeeping are:
Fewer slip, trip and fall incidents
Reducing fire hazards in hot work areas
Better condition and control of tools, PPE and materials
Easier to clean up the jobsite at the end of the project
Better use of space for traffic flow and fabrication
Better productivity, less time wasted looking for tools and parts
It is important to remember as well that while subtrades and subcontractors working on your Jobsite are responsible to keep their areas in a very clean condition, as an employer or constructor you are ultimately responsible for the Health & Safety of everyone on the project. As a Project Manager or Site Superintendent, it's a very good practice to inspect all areas of the project, including all laydown and storage areas, and where your subcontractors are working.
Be sure to communicate to your workers that if they notice an area of the Jobsite that requires housekeeping and are unsure of who is responsible for it, they should speak to their supervisor immediately to arrange a clean up or contact the appropriate people.