It's worth the few extra minutes to make sure everyone gets home safely.
We've all been there: it's the end of a long day, we are in the middle of a big project, and we are just coming back to do the same thing tomorrow. Might as well just leave it overnight, it will cut down on prep time tomorrow...then the alarm doesn't go off, traffic is grid-locked and your co-workers are already an hour into the shift... with no idea of what you left out in the open.
What if that one thing you didn't put away, or spill you didn't mop up, is the reason someone else won't be going in to work tomorrow?
Approximately two-thirds of all workplace accidents can be traced back to housekeeping issues. And the statistics presented by the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) are sobering.
In 2015, 852 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada. Add to these fatalities the 232,629 claims accepted for lost time due to a work-related injury or disease, and the fact that these statistics only include what is reported and accepted by the compensation boards, and it is safe to say that the total number of workers impacted is even higher.
That's approximately 155,654 housekeeping related incidents in Canada alone. While there are a number of reasons that good housekeeping should be made a priority in the workplace, trips, slips and falls are definitely at the top of the list.
So what can we do to avoid them?
Good housekeeping has many benefits to everyone in the workplace, whether on a construction site or in an office setting. A cleaner work space will save time and increase productivity. It creates a sense of order and pride in the job. And, in the event of a medical emergency, it could determine the level of care that first responders are able to provide for you or your co-workers. While there are many fast and effective ways to help reduce illness and injury without interrupting workflow, here are a few core housekeeping practices encouraged by the CCOHS:
- Mop up spills immediately
- Put tools away when finished with them and discard those that are dammaged
- Keep materials out of walking paths
- Remove any excess materials that are no longer required from the work site
Dispose of waste and garbage regularly and appropriately
Aside from cleaning up after you or your crew has finished a task, one of the simplest things you can do to avoid such tragedies is to ensure that everyone is aware of their surroundings. It is important to find any and all safety hazards that can be identified prior to starting work in the area so that injuries can be avoided. Having workers walk around and observe the work site prior to starting their day makes them aware and accountable for what is present and happening in their immediate area. Here are a few ways to encourage awareness in your workplace. These are also good opportunities to bring up any concerns or reminders regarding action items that haven't been completed, and any near-misses or incidents that need to be addressed.
- Have a daily walk-through and/or tool box meeting at the beginning of each shift
- Provide workers with a checklist of any materials or equipment that should be inspected prior to being used
- Have a written Housekeeping Plan available to all employees
- Have a designated Health and Safety Representative accessible
It is important that all incidents, near misses, and hazards, along with any corrective actions required, be logged and tracked to ensure that the appropriate follow-up procedures can be executed. Creating a comprehensive safety program that works for your organization, and follows the current legislation requirements in your jurisdiction, will allow you to track all this documentation effectively, and ensure that all your workers are aware of the Health and Safety policies and procedures in place.
Good housekeeping doesn't cost a thing, but it does pay off. All it takes is a few minutes a day to reduce the frequency and severity of workplace injuries dramatically and ensure that at the end of a shift, everyone gets to go home.