Poor housekeeping on a site is one of the biggest contributing factors to incidents on a construction site, as it creates hazards that lead to injuries.
You need to drive the culture of your worksite to keep tidiness in mind, and be aware of the benefits this will have.
In this video, I have explained what is meant by housekeeping, as well as as the benefits that will come from keeping the site tidy and free from clutter.
Importance of Housekeeping
Many accidents are caused by people tripping, slipping and falling over on materials and equipment, which have been left and not put away in a sound place.
A great deal of environmental problems could also be avoided if materials were disposed of properly, instead of being allowed to escape into the surrounding area.
Housekeeping activities that will benefit your organisation:
Do not leave rubbish lying about
Ensure all waste is disposed of correctly
Do not obstruct gangways, aisles or stairways
Ensure spilled oil, grease or liquids are cleaned up
Ensure the refuse disposal point is in a safe position
Ensure there is a clear route to the disposal area
Ensure waste containers are clearly marked
Position all cables and hoses out of the way
Avoid accumulation of waste materials as this can start fires
Avoid leaving items that could fall from height
Slips, Trips and Falls
Slippery surfaces that have been improperly cleaned, or waste material has been left lying around can increase the chances of trips and falls.
Think about weather conditions that can impact this such as ice, snow and rain. This m might result in unsafe grounds for ladder steps and scaffolding.
Obstructions on walkways, steps and areas that people have to move about on a site are particularly important. Think about the routes that people may have to take on a regular basis to collect supplies, to go to the canteen or welfare locations.
You must also consider emergency escape routes on a site. Are these checked regularly to ensure that they are clear and easily accessible?
Activities you can do to reduce slips, trips and falls:
Think about the types of materials that you're using on the site
Consider the surrounding area to ensure that people can clearly walk past
Consider the grounds, so that debris cannot come into contact and cause greater risk to the people using these work items
Think about ice/snow and the different chemicals that may be used in a workplace to and avoid slipping
It is important that you breed a culture of responsibility. Train your workers around the importance of not just walking past. Instead, if they see something that needs to be addressed or that others could learn from, they need to share their findings.
If you need to stop a job and ask someone to correct something, it may seem a little bit strange initially, people may be defensive. However, as time passes, this type of culture will breed a safer workplace.
Storage of Materials
Storage of materials may include bricks, concrete, timber, blocks, rolls of material, steel, or even chemicals.
Think about hazards associated to how you store these materials, such as:
Vehicles colliding with materials
Weather conditions (high winds)
Methods of storing materials
When it comes to chemical materials, the storage of these items may be far more critical, and therefore, it's important that you refer to data sheets and possibly COSH assessments associated to this.
What are the benefits of a tidy site?
Reduced handling to ease the flow of materials
Fewer tripping and slipping accidents
Decreased fire hazards
Reduce exposure for workers to hazardous substances
Better control of tools and materials
More efficient equipment clean up and maintenance
More effective use of space
Reduce property damage by improving preventative maintenance
Less janitorial work
Improved morale and productivity
How to manage site tidiness
Clean up during shifts and avoid waiting till the end of the week. If you do this daily, you can think about whether you can improve on waste disposals.
You could also introduce an inspection program. Maybe once a week, once a month, people are doing a walk around to check: -
that the access and egress routes are clear,
to check that the pathways and routes on scaffolding are clear,
vehicle and plant movement around the site.
If you have debris and storage of items that is inappropriate, then this can cause additional concerns for people operating this machinery.
And also remember the places we may not go to very often, the hidden away places, like the basements, high-up shelves, roofs where people may have left material up there after completing a job.
Let's get people into the business of cleaning up as they go, and therefore ensuring that when jobs are complete the material and the tools are brought down and removed from the location they work.
Effective housekeeping is an ongoing operation. It's not a hit and a miss activity that you do when someone's coming to site to inspect you.
Breed this culture of something we want to do all of the time, so that we can achieve this and maintain it on an ongoing basis.
Ultimately, you want to reduce the number of potential incidents, and of course, remove as many hazards as you possibly can. It's a behavioral thing, and therefore, behavioral changes can drive a culture to improve your site.