Fire Prevention: Housekeeping is important

Fire Prevention: Housekeeping is important

Effective housekeeping on the job can eliminate some workplace hazards and help get a job done safely and properly. 

Poor housekeeping can frequently contribute to accidents by hiding hazards that cause injuries. If the sight of paper, debris, clutter, and spills is accepted as normal, then other more serious health and safety hazards may be taken for granted. 

Housekeeping is not just cleanliness. It includes keeping work areas neat and orderly, maintaining halls and floors free of slip and trip hazards, and removing of waste materials (e.g., paper, cardboard) and other fire hazards from work areas. 

It also requires paying attention to important details such as the layout of the whole workplace, aisle marking, the adequacy of storage facilities, and maintenance. 

Good housekeeping

Effective housekeeping is an ongoing operation: it is not a hit-and-miss cleanup done occasionally. Periodic “panic” cleanups are costly and ineffective in reducing accidents. 

Do not forget out-of-the-way places such as shelves, basements, sheds, and boiler rooms that would otherwise be overlooked. The orderly arrangement of operations, tools, equipment and supplies is an important part of a good housekeeping program. 

The final addition to any housekeeping program is inspection. It is the only way to check for deficiencies in the program so that changes can be made. The documents on workplace inspection checklists provide a general guide and examples of checklists for inspection areas.

Good organization

Good organization of stored materials is essential for overcoming material storage problems whether on a temporary or permanent basis. There will also be fewer strain injuries if the amount of handling is reduced, especially if less manual materials handling is required. 

The location of the stockpiles should not interfere with work, but they should still be readily available when required. Storage of materials must allow 18 inches to three feet of clear space under sprinkler heads depending on the code requirement. 

Stacking cartons and drums on a firm foundation and cross tying them, where necessary, reduces the chance of their movement. Stored materials should not obstruct aisles, stairs, exits, fire equipment, emergency eyewash fountains, emergency showers, or first aid stations. All storage areas should be clearly marked. 

Flammable, combustible, toxic, and other hazardous materials should be stored in approved containers in designated areas that are appropriate for the different hazards that they pose. Storage of materials must meet all requirements specified in the fire codes and the regulations of environmental and occupational health and safety agencies.

For more information on housekeeping and proper storage as it relates to fire prevention, call the fire department at 801-777-3021.

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