Dorothy and Scarecrow were enjoying the beautiful day as they walked along a very pristine Green Brick road of safety. She was very impressed by how clean it was and remarked, the bricks look like they were just polished. I wonder how do they do it? It helped make for a pleasant walk even in the company of Scarecrow who constantly chattered on and on, answering his own questions with excruciating detail. Dorothy was enjoying the weather, the landscape and had temporarily forgotten all about her troubles as they hit the bend in the road she spun around like the Belle at the ball when they noticed a gradual change in the upkeep of the area. Debris became more noticeable as piles of wood and metal scrap, paper, plastic wrap and other types garbage grew larger and filled up the path making it more difficult to walk and Scarecrow kept tripping on the discarded items. Dorothy even had a few slips and slides while trying to keep Scarecrow upright. It was a mess! Streamers of toilet paper blew in the wind as it clung to the trees, heaps of rusted metals, machine parts, liquids, plastic, tools dotted the landscape like little land mines. What’s the deal, this is ridiculous said Dorothy, it looks like our shop floor after a big project.
Their pace slowed to a crawl yet Scarecrow still somehow managed to trip over a largely discarded water heater or so he thought, until the object yelled, “OW!” Scarecrow stopped in his tracks and asked, “was that you Dorothy.?” Dorothy was just as freaked and shook her head, no it wasn’t. In a soft faint tone, they heard, “Etwasmi” “What?” “Et was mi” They looked and found lying on the ground a long-forgotten tin man buried in the trash that had rusted over during the years it was there. They stood him up. “Earlcan”, he said as he eyes rolled and darted downward. Faced with the blank stares from Dorothy and Scarecrow he repeated, “Earlcan”. Dorothy realized it and picked up the oil can and oiled around his mouth. The tin man slowly moved his jaw a few times and finally was able to say, “Ahhhhh, thank you. I thought no one would ever find me. Can you oil the rest of me please.” They brought him back to being mobile and was ready for the barrage of questions Dorothy and Scarecrow had. “Well you see, I was cleaning the area as I was told to do until one of the other workers asked, why are we working so hard cleaning up? They’re only going to make it dirty again and there are no bosses around to watch what we’re doing, let’s get outta here. So they did but I did not have the heart to stop and do nothing so I kept working but then the rain came and with no one around to oil me. I rusted in place and have been here waiting for help so long a family of field mice moved in for a few years until the Ferrel cats took over.”
That’s terrible, Dorothy said. Scarecrow asked, “So you did the housekeeping here?” “Yes, I did when I could. The Personwhomustbeobeyed of this section of the Green Brick Road of Safety kept pulling me off housekeeping duties and reassigning me to other non-productive tasks. So it began to pile up, but the Personwhomustbeobeyed didn’t seem to mind how it looked so other workers figured what the heck and it got worse to the point you see it now.” Scarecrow jumped in, “Hey, I’ve got an idea! Why don’t we take this to the head inspector in the Emerald City!?” The tin man looked surprised, “The head inspector! Really!” “Yes. He needs to know about the trip, slip and fall hazards here and Dorothy has to see him anyway to report the inspector of the East’s death and I gonna get some PPE. You don’t mind, do you, Dorothy?” Not at all guys but let’s get moving, I want to get out of this dangerous dump. Off they went further down the road and closer to Emerald city.
Since we began our journey down the Green Brick Road of Safety, we have done a Hazard Analysis to identify safety hazards. Then further down the road, we met Scarecrow and his lack of knowledge on PPE as to what equipment is available to protect employees. Both important factors to workplace safety, but can we still further protect our employees from injury? Yes, of course, we can and it’s up ahead around the bend where the poor Tin Man was left with a daunting task of Housekeeping. Granted, it’s not a very glamorous sounding name as it brings up images of maids and hotels who are sweeping, mopping and dusting, but actually, that is a small part of Housekeeping.
Trips, slips and falls – continues to be a leading cause of injury in the workplace and good housekeeping practices contains the usual suspects and greatly reduces the number of accidents. —Keep work areas, walkways, entryways free of clutter and obstructions at all times placing scraps, cardboard, plastic and used strapping in proper bins for bailing or trash bin. —You need to have a policy in place on drinks and containers allowed in the work area and if allowed, only containers with lids should be used. Make sure mops, pails and wet floor warning signs are easily accessible to staff to deal with small spills and for larger liquid or chemical spills, have staff trained how to respond and handle with containment booms and absorbent materials. —Work areas kept clean and organized. Tools, lubricants, oils, inks other items that are not needed or in use should be put away and stored in the proper cabinet. Window sills, machine tops, and computers are not proper storage areas. —Proper footwear is very important especially if you work in a wet or cold storage environment. You need the correct footing to keep steady and not flat on your back. –Inclement weather, (rain, snow) and not paying attention or distraction are issues that should also be addressed to help ensure fewer accidents.
Forklifts and other industrial motorized equipment – Yes, housekeeping can keep your forklifts and other motorized equipment working longer and spending less time in repair. When the trash is left on the floor, especially plastic and paper a forklift can suck up the trash into its gears. Over time the plastic heats up, melts and forms a large plug of plastic causing restricted airflow internally which results in other problems.
Sanitation – Another critical part of housekeeping especially in facilities that manufacture and/or store fresh perishables or frozen food products. Keeping the work areas clean to prevent contamination from bacteria or other foreign particles is a daily routine on a consistent basis thanks to the use of a master sanitation schedule. The schedule breaks out exactly what areas to be cleaned and the frequency. As part of the accountability the person assigned to the cleaning signs off that it’s done. The cleaning and organizing of the facility also greatly reduces the chance of attracting outside visitors such as insects and vermin.
Upkeep – Is also included when it comes to housekeeping. Any part of the facility that is found to be in need of repair should be done immediately, since putting it off could lead to other problems down the road especially if it’s a hole in the floor where someone could fall into or as a gateway for the previously named insects and vermin. Flaking paint and rusted metal are also indications that immediate repairs are needed. Upkeep along with sanitation and other good housekeeping practices keep the facility a safe and clean place to work.
Work station’s setup for maximum efficiency and ergonomics –
This is not an example of that. Cluttered workbench with spray paint not put away in the proper storage cabinet, if not tossed as empty cans, tools, and other items was strewn about which wastes time trying to locate when needed, unnecessary items also on workbench adding to clutter and all surrounded by trip hazards and poor lighting.
A workstation should be set up to allow the least amount of repetitive movements, (bending, twisting, stooping, squatting and lifting) by the employee to complete their tasks while operating machinery or working over a workbench. Everything within reach and easy to retrieve and little time stopping to find what you need. A great example this is something you probably use every day, the kitchen triangle. To achieve maximum efficiency in the kitchen it is set up with a clearly defined path so the chef can easily reach the three key areas; stove, sink and refrigerator.
5S – This is a term you may or may not have heard in conjunction with housekeeping and productivity. If this is new to you, please allow me to introduce you to this concept. It is a discipline created in Japan to eliminate waste (wasted time, wasted moves, etc) in specific ways to keep your work area clean, free of debris and organized to work safely and highly productive. The 5S are: Seiri – Clearing up. Seiton – Organizing. Seiso – Cleaning. Seiketsu – standardizing. Shitsuke – self-discipline. Like many other disciplines there are also variations of 5S around like 6S (Sort, Straighten, Sweep, Standardize, Self-Discipline, & Safety). 5S could be a great tool and a way to introduce if you wanted to create a new workplace culture that develops disciplines even a mother would dream of. There is plenty of literature out there to read up on, just google it.
No matter what housekeeping program you decide to go with or what you call it, 5S, 6S, No S, I think you can see now why keeping your facility organized and clean is so important.
A tip for you from my vast experience. When your warehouse looks clean, organized and well kept, you’re offering a fabulous first impression and all visitors, whether internal inspectors or external inspectors, your boss or the bosses boss, usually don’t bother looking deeper for issues. The only problem you may have is the influx of management and corporate visitors wanting to see your facility.
So as you can see cleanliness is close to safety and you can be a large part of the solution. Don’t discard trash onto the floor, use proper receptacles. Keep your work area organized and free of clutter. Do not use chemicals or other harsh cleaners unless specifically instructed to do so and then make sure to wear the appropriate PPE. Thank you for joining us and hope to see you as Dorothy, Scarecrow and the Tin Man continue their journey on the Green Brick Road of Safety. Don’t miss an episode, sign up to get every new issue of Witzshared.com delivered right to you.
Safety is never pointless. If you feel that way you need to talk to someone. If necessary call the OSHA hotline 1-800-321-6742 and file an anonymous complaint. Never keep quiet about safety and always ask questions.