Housekeeping practices are an integral part of the wider workplace quality programs as well as the safety programs. Poor housekeeping practices like inadequate cleaning of the equipment, or the work areas in general, may lead to a build-up of bacteria that could have negative implications on employees’ health conditions.
The occasional cleanups are very ineffective in preventing accidents. In order to have effective housekeeping at your workplace, long-term plans and ongoing activities are required. Housekeeping is also an integral part of broader plans for accident and fire prevention.
What are the consequences of poor housekeeping?
Poor housekeeping can cause several accidents, depending on the nature of the workplace. The employees may be exposed to unnecessary risks, such as:
- Tripping over loose objects on stairs, platforms, and floors
- Being hit by falling objects
- Slipping on wet or dirty surfaces
- Tearing the skin (mainly on the hands).
To avoid these hazards, every employee must maintain order throughout the workday. Even though it may require a lot of planning and management, the benefits outweigh the risks.
The importance of educating employees on housekeeping
Employee training is a key part in establishing a proper housekeeping plan. It is imperative for them to know how to work properly and safely with the products they use. Employees must also be aware about the need to protect their co-workers, for example, by posting signs (e.g. “Slippery Floor”) and reporting any unusual conditions that may cause problems at the workplace.
What is included in a housekeeping plan?
A housekeeping plan cannot be achieved, only maintained. Cleaning must be done on a regular basis, not just before the end of the shift. Integrating housekeeping into workers’ regular job duties can help ensure positive results in this sense. A good housekeeping plan features:
- Cleaning up during the shift
- Regular cleanup every day
- Habitual waste disposal
- Persistent removal of unused materials
- Regular “cleanup” inspection.
Additionally, a good housekeeping plan includes management, storage, and the movement of materials from the point of entry to the exit. Having such a plan shows a clear intention not to use work areas as storage areas. Extra bins and more frequent waste disposal may also present a smart solution.
Elements of an effective housekeeping plan
Dust and Dirt Removal
Vacuum cleaners for removing light dust and dirt are a must in order to maintain a high level of hygiene. Wetting floors before sweeping reduces the amount of airborne dust. The grime that can be found in places like windows, shelves, piping, lockers, or cupboards may also require manual detailed cleaning. Always make sure that your cleaning materials such as mops and towels are clean and hygienic, too.
The overall maintenance of buildings and equipment is definitely the most significant element of proper housekeeping. Maintenance features keeping the equipment in an efficient and safe working order. This includes the maintenance of sanitary facilities and regularly painting the walls.
It is very important to fix or replace damaged or broken items quickly. Upon the end of every shift, an inspection by an authorized person will enable the company to keep up with the envisaged maintenance plan.
The regular collection of waste as well as its sorting and grading presents a good housekeeping practice. It is very important to separate recyclable materials from those going to waste disposal facilities. All waste containers should be clearly marked, especially with signs for plastic, glass, metal, etc.
Tools and Equipment
Tool housekeeping and orderly arrangement is very important. If employees return the tools immediately after use, the chance of tools being lost or misplaced will be minimal. Workers should also repair and clean every tool they use at their workplace.
Employee facilities need to be regularly maintained. Therefore, the cleanliness of lockers and washroom facilities must be maintained at least once in each shift. These facilities must also have everything necessary for maintaining personal hygiene, such as soaps and towels.
Smart organization of stored materials is essential for overcoming problems with material storage. Fewer strain injuries will occur if manual handling is reduced. Stockpiles should not be located in a busy and frequent area at the workplace, but they should still be available and accessible when required only.
Poor floor condition is probably the leading reason for accidents at the workplace. Cleaning up any spilled oil or other liquid immediately is crucial. However, there are areas like entrance ways that cannot be cleaned continuously. In order to solve that problem, these areas should have anti-slip flooring. Regarding the walls, the housekeeping program should outline the standards and regulations for applicable colours.
Why should we have a proper housekeeping plan at work?
Having an effective housekeeping plan can eliminate dangerous workplace hazards and assist in completing tasks properly, done properly, timely, and safely. Housekeeping means not only cleanliness, but also keeping work areas in order, maintaining floors and ensuring they’re free of trip and slip risks, and removing waste materials and other hazardous elements from work areas.
This article was contributed by Alsco, one of Australia’s leading providers of linen, workwear, commercial floor mats, industrial cleaners, first aid kits and washroom hygiene services across Australia and New Zealand. Alsco aims to help create healthier, safer and greener workplaces for businesses across Australia.