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How to Optimize Workplace Health & Safety

How to Optimize Workplace Health & Safety

Having a safe and healthy work setting means so much more than just dusting and keeping the place clutter-free, since its primary aim is to protect the health of those working in there. Actually, workplace housekeeping is seen as crucial in prevention of injuries, boosting morale and maintaining the productivity, therefore, we can’t overlook its importance when it comes to making a positive first impression on visitors.

The key element of workplace housekeeping is that it concerns every single employee, rather than just a selected group in charge of cleaning. No matter whether we’re talking about regular offices, factories, warehouses or production plants, certain rules have to be obeyed. The fact that hazardous or combustible materials might be present only increases the need to obey the standards, rules and, instructions issued by relevant bodies or product manufacturers.

So, in order to avoid possible injuries, damages, losses of property, or even human lives, have a look at some of the most common problems and ways of preventing them.

Slips, Trips, and Falls

Though it may sound trivial, these three accidents are regularly among the most common accidents at work and, as such, present serious occupational injuries that make a great number of people miss days of work each year. The most common reasons for these injuries are wet, dirty, or slippery floors, as well as cluttered hallways or passageways.

To avoid these accidents, employers are advised to carefully choose appropriate flooring (ceramic tiles, cement, etc.), depending on the type of conditions at their workplace. Next, there have to be adequate cleaning protocols to prevent slipperiness and they need to be implemented. Any spills and leaks need to be reported and/or cleaned immediately, passageways cleared of items, while any damage on the floor (such as worn or ripped floor) must be repaired without delay. Finally, areas that can’t always be cleaned should feature anti-slip flooring.

Fire Hazards

Needless to say, this is a major safety concern in all workplaces, particularly at establishments dealing with flammable material. There should be strict regulations regarding the amount of combustible material kept in the work area, as well as those regulating their storage and handling. Storage facilities should provide necessary conditions in terms of temperature, humidity, and a lack of ignition sources.

Another potential danger is having clothes or uniforms contaminated with flammable liquids. If that happens, make sure you or your employees change clothes immediately. Also, if there is any hazard in electrical areas or problems with wiring, make sure it is reported immediately. Finally, make sure that proper evacuation diagrams are clearly visible, and that emergency exits are free of obstructions, thus providing quick and safe exit to all the employees in case of emergency.

Dust Control

There are several reasons why dust is potentially hazardous. First of all, high quantities of dust in a room significantly reduce the indoor air quality, which is a major issue. Also, dust may make the floor slippery, thus potentially leading to various injuries. Finally, accumulation of dust might be a great explosion hazard, according to various experts.

In order to combat dust, vacuuming is still the most recommended method, though other options, such as sweeping and washing-down are also acceptable. Using compressed air to blow down dust is only advised in cases when surfaces are not accessible or safe.

Insect and Pest Control

Depending on the type of products a company is manufacturing, storing, or using, the problem related to insects and pests may be more or less prominent, but in any case, it needs to be regularly addressed. Not only can they cause damage to products and equipment, but they also might be carriers of various infectious diseases.

When dealing with insects and pests in the workplace, it’s important to know what methods and substances can be used, since you must be careful not to jeopardise the health of employees, and you don’t want any chemicals to contaminate your products either. That’s why this job is best left to experts who use products that have been tested and approved by relevant institutions, because you can make much more harm than good by using an inappropriate substance or dosage.

Getting Rid of Clutter

The more unnecessary objects there are around you, the more likely you are to get injured, which is why all employees need to make sure they don’t keep anything they don’t need lying around. Clutter may also prevent you from setting up your workspace the way you should, which might cause further problems.

So, all employees need to make sure that stairways, emergency exits, and aisles are clutter-free and that trash cans are emptied before they overflow. Keeping a workplace tidy is not only a matter of hygiene, but it also helps you make a good impression on any visitor or potential customer.

Storage Issues

Just like your offices or production facilities should not accumulate hazardous materials, you need to apply the same rule to your storage facilities. As the name suggests, these areas are supposed to store items that need to be kept out of the way of workers when not in use, which is why workspaces should by no means be turned into storages.

Each item needs to have its proper place, and storages should be as near as possible to workers, so that it’s easy for everyone to use them. It is also important that a professional in charge organizes the storage in order to prevent people from stretching too far or lifting heavy loads, which might lead to various injuries.

Final Remarks

Experience has shown what experts have been saying for quite some time now: housekeeping policies should definitely be put in writing. This makes them official, defined, and more likely to be obeyed. Written protocols need to clearly state the information about the people, tools, and methods that are involved in keeping the workplace clean.

Also, as we’ve already stated, all employees need to be aware of the importance of keeping their workplace clean and safe and they all need to be involved in it up to a point. It’s vital that everyone understands that it’s not a one-off activity, but rather an ongoing process that should bring benefit to everyone.

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by Lillian Connors // Lillian is a senior business consultant and the co-editor at She's mainly focused on business optimization and sustainable growth. In her leisure time, she likes to lose herself in a good book or drink a couple of hoppy pale ales.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.