Housekeeping Tool Box Talks

Most of you probably have house cleaning responsibilities at home. For some of you, it’s a regular weekly chore. Whatever the case may be, you’ll agree that good housekeeping practices are important at home.

However, what we sometimes overlook is that good housekeeping is a key duty on the job, too. The orderly arrangement of work areas is vital to the safety of all workers, regardless of whether they are involved with machines and tools or with appliances and furniture.

What is Housekeeping?

Housekeeping refers to maintaining materials, work areas, and walking areas in a clean, orderly, sanitary, and dry condition.

Why is it Important?

Bad housekeeping is dangerous at any time. It leads to increased risks, production delays, property damage, and higher costs.

Falls often result from tripping over loose article such as tools left in the aisle ways and work areas. Wet spots on the floor, or trash and other articles left in the stairways also take their toll.

We have trash receptacles placed in several strategic areas, so there is no excuse for waste paper, pop bottles, or other materials being thrown on the floor. 

Let’s face it. It is just a lot easier to do your job when your work area is kept neat. Keep your tools and equipment off the floor and stored in the proper places. This not only reduces tripping hazards, but protects the equipment you use to earn a living with. 

Did you ever go to your closest at home to get your golf clubs and have to pull them out from under some other articles? Things start falling all over. It’s a mess. But before you blow your cool, stop and think. “How many times have I left stuff piled on top of the golf clubs when I was in a hurry looking for something else in the closet?”

 The same principles apply when storing material or equipment on the job. Take time to make the piles neat. It’s unsafe to stack them too high and, if possible, it’s best to keep them away from other equipment or articles that are used often. Do your best to keep things on carts or pallets that can be easily moved to limit injuries during handling. Not only think of the injury aspect of it but the efficiency of handling materials that are easily moved.

We have to be a lot like a quarterback, keeping our eyes open for changes in the defense or certain other telltale moves of opposing players. On the job, we should keep a lookout for danger signals – loose flooring, articles out of place, or other unsafe conditions. 

Real Life Scenario

Sharon, a carpenter, was doing framing for a custom-sized pace on the second story of a house. There were a lot of wood pieces, scraps, and saw dust that accumulated over the day around the saw horses, power tools, cords, and materials piles. When leaving for the day she tripped over some of the items on the floor and fell down the stairwell, injuring her neck.

  1. Name things that could have been done to prevent this incident.
  2. Does your work site have excessive quantities of lumber, debris, or flammable materials lying around?
  3. How regularly are materials organized and laced where they belong?

 In closing, I’d like to emphasize that we’re all dependent on each other for safety. It’s up to each of us to hold up our end of the deal. When each of us keeps their own area in order, the whole job site is a safer place to work.

  • Keep floors clean and clear of waste.
  • Keep hoses, power cords, and welding leads out of heavily-travelled walkways or areas.
  • Don’t allow materials to build up.