Housekeeping in construction is much more than just sweeping up or taking out the trash at the end of the day. Housekeeping includes a variety of duties that contribute to keeping the workspace clean and safe. With so much going on and so much to keep track of, a construction site is at a high risk for accidents. General cleanliness is very important and everyone needs to do their part to keep our work areas clean and orderly. Consider where these issues may be a concern in your workplace and what needs to be done to maintain good housekeeping practices.
Keep it Clear
It is fundamental that aisles and passageways remain clean and orderly on the job site. This means you need to be aware of things that are stored in passageways or areas where people walk.
Tools or materials should never be stored in passageways; keep them clear at all times. Watch where cords or hoses run. If they are in someone’s path they are a tripping hazard. Make a point to immediately pick up obstacles in passageways like debris, food or equipment, which all can cause an unwanted fall. Anything else that might become a tripping hazard, like cords, wires, loose flooring or trash, needs to be taken care of immediately.
Spills and equipment leaks are a normal occurrence, and that’s okay. Of course, when you notice a spill, your first step should be to find its source and fix it. At the same time, use “pigs” (round absorbent material) to catch oil so that it doesn’t get into passageways.
Pop quiz: What is the safest ladder material to use in your industry? If you said fiberglass, you were correct. It is the only ladder material that does not conduct electricity. Did you know that when wood ladders are moist, dirty or oil-soaked, they can conduct electricity too?
You know ladders come in different lengths and types, designed for different uses and rated to hold different weights. Make sure the ladder you choose is taller than the point you want to reach (the top step of the ladder is for storage, not your feet) and rated to hold enough weight. Straight or extension ladders must lean against the wall in such a way that when you stand straight up with your feet at the base of the ladder, your arms should be touching the beam when held at a 90-degree angle.
After choosing the correct ladder, use proper safety procedures when using it. You should also always look where you and the ladder are going when raising, lowering or moving the ladder. When going up or down the ladder, always use two hands, using a tool belt to carry equipment up or down the ladder. If you need to lean a bit when you are on the ladder, avoid going too far. If your belt buckle goes beyond the sides of the ladder, you are leaning too far and could easily fall. When going up or down the ladder, always face forward. Finally, when moving the ladder, get off first instead of attempting to bounce it from one point on a wall to another.
There are many different ways that we can take positive steps to improve the overall look and feel of our working locations. Housekeeping involves many different areas of the operation, and whatever we can do to help maintain a work area will go far in improving our overall safety performance. As a rule, keep everything neat and in its place. When you see a problem, please don’t assume someone else will correct it because another employee may be thinking the same thing. Take the steps to fix it yourself.