Organization of Work Areas & Housekeeping Practices
The means and methods of how we setup and clean up our work areas make a huge impact on our ability to work safely as well as efficiently. Occasionally, our work areas are set up and not changed or kept up for long periods of time. Complacency often plays a factor in why our work areas are not changed or cleaned up which puts our safety at risk. Taking the time to evaluate and cleanup our work areas can benefit everyone in eliminating hazards; preventing an injury from occurring. It is also important for supervisors to walk their projects down at the end of the day to ensure all potential hazards are eliminated.
Common Hazards of Work Areas with Poor Organization & Housekeeping
Slip/Trip hazards– Objects on the floor, objects hanging from shelves, and uneven ground are just a few common examples of trip hazards in the workplace. Wet spots can cause slips and falls. They should be cleaned up immediately, regardless of who was responsible for their being there.
Sprain/ Strain hazards– Poor foresight or carelessness often leads to heavy or awkward objects being left on the floor or in a space that makes it difficult for someone to lift them up. These situations put us at risk for sprain and strain injuries which are some of the most common and costly injuries that occur in the workplace.
Overhead hazards– Poor organization leads to objects being hastily thrown on overhead shelves which leads to dropped object hazards as well as a struck-by hazard for someone working in the area.
Risks to property– When items are left everywhere or in the line of fire, damage to tools, equipment, or materials often occurs.
Work Area Organization Best Practices
Have clean and clear walkways through a work area. Always have proper space for tools, materials, and equipment to avoid creating trip hazards as well as preventing property damage incidents. Never allow excess materials to take up space in walkways or in the path of forklifts.
Always store heavy or awkward objects where they are easily accessible to be lifted, preferably by a piece of equipment such as a forklift when possible. Always think of the next person who may have to lift an object. It may be in a spot that creates an easy and safe lift for you but may create a hazard for someone who is shorter than you. Never place objects that are improperly staged or secured overhead, especially when moving equipment is in the area. A 10lb object stored on a high shelf can cause a serious injury to someone below if it falls off. Never have objects or materials hanging overhead where someone could walk into them.
Take time to evaluate your work areas today. How long have they been organized and maintained in their current state? Is there a better way to setup a certain area? We are all dependent on each other for safety and it’s up to us to hold up our end of the deal. When each individual keeps their own area in order, the whole construction site is a safer place to work.