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NEWS | Dec. 19, 2018

Housekeeping: The first step in safety

By Lynn Mitchell Aniston Army Depot Safety Office

Have you ever wondered why your parents always insisted you clean your room? In some cases, it was because company was coming. But, in most cases, it's safe to say they had tripped over one too many toys or hit the final straw by stepping barefoot on a Lego.

Those who are parents understand. It's likely you can still feel the pain.

Even owners of pets have experienced toys underfoot, resulting in a not so good morning. We have all learned the home can become very dangerous when messy.

While there are no toys around our work areas to trip over or step on, housekeeping is an essential requirement for maintaining a safe work place.

Sometimes, as adults, we are complacent and let our work areas get cluttered, just as we did with our rooms growing up.

It's easy to set an item down and say, "I'll put that away later," only to say the same thing every time you pass the item.

Poor housekeeping at work is quick to result in injuries. A common cause of falls is debris, tools and materials on the floor.

Poor housekeeping can impede exit routes used for emergency egress, resulting in a relatively small event turning fatal.

Fires result and are fed from ignition of paper scraps, wood shavings, dust or puddles of flammable liquid.

Objects left exposed on floors with sharp edges can cause cuts or punctures.

Finally, objects left sitting on an elevated surface unsecured can fall, causing injury to those below.
Any of these housekeeping failures and resulting injuries can be very serious in nature and all are avoidable.

Some things to look for regarding proper housekeeping are:
• Are walkways, stairways and aisle ways free of obstructions?
• Is trash properly placed in receptacles and are trash receptacles routinely emptied?
• Are tools properly stored in a designated location?
• Are materials and supplies stored/stacked in an orderly manner and secured to prevent toppling?
• Are carts overloaded?
• Are cabinets free of materials stored on top?
• Are spills cleaned up immediately?
• Are areas free of clutter to include corners, closets and offices?
• In dismantling operations, are removed parts placed in appropriate bins to prevent trip hazards and remove clutter?
• Are offices free of excess paperwork and clutter?
• Are break rooms kept clean with food items properly stored or disposed of?
• Are work area surfaces free of excess dust, oil or grease?

While none of us want to be the other's maid and appreciate our coworkers being considerate, there is a better reason for encouraging those around us to follow good housekeeping practices -- it's a serious safety issue.

At a minimum, inspect and clean your work space at the completion of each shift.

Don't be the cause of someone being injured because of your laziness with regard to keeping your work area neat.

Take initiative for your own actions, be neat to keep others walking steadily on their feet.