Workplace safety and good housekeeping goes beyond floors that are swept and orderly storage of materials. It is good space management, elimination of clutter, orderliness, effective workplace traffic and organization, and providing tools to encourage better working habits and practices and communal concern. When all these are achieved the result will be fewer janitorial cleanups, fewer damage to properties, optimized inventories, fewer energy costs, reduced possibilities of fire hazards, fewer accidents including better workplace stresses and comfortable work environment.
There is a popular belief that the things we learned until seven years old rule the rest of our lives. True maybe but that could not be allowed to happen in the workplace where different people come from different orientation to life and the effect could destroy even the best management intentions. Being orderly and being chaotic is not a choice. It is the law. No matter the excuse, no matter the intention, good housekeeping is worth keeping. Here is why.
Good housekeeping results to productivity. A cluttered workspace slows down work. Even the simplest of items lost in a clutter, when the need is important becomes an issue of productivity. Tidying up the space maybe the job of janitors but it is also an integral part of efficiency. When the job slows due to improper housekeeping, the employee must understand that productivity goes hand in hand with job security. The employee must keep the space under his influence tidy before break time and before starting work. There is such a thing as organized chaos promoted in many quarters. Organized chaos though is for show. It does not have anything to do with safety and efficiency.
Good housekeeping is improving profitability. Legal yes, but if legalities are the main motivators, the span of involvement is short. The understanding is limited too. Sooner, clutter piles up. When that happens, downtime is incurred loosing man-hours, mishandling of materials and equipment, costly repairs, cause employee demotivation and even accidents. Every employee must realize that good housekeeping promotes safety, profitability and the competitiveness of the company.
Horseplay may be very light infractions. The OSHA passed several laws and catalogues of hazards that could be very costly when violations are established. While the OSHA catalogue is impressive, there are needs that are particular to certain companies. It is advisable for safety engineers to augment laws by house rules and evaluate housekeeping practices based on the list.
In formulating house rules, the old "what if" question are still good guidelines to go by. Accidents by its nature are unexpected. No matter how good the plan is, accidents are never totally prevented. Exploring the "what if" question expands possibilities of reducing accidents from happening.
We all know that a clean workspace is a healthy place. A well-organized place is a safe workplace. Every employee must be involved in housekeeping and make suggestions on places in the office or in the shop floor that needs better housekeeping, because workplace safety starts with good housekeeping practices.