Housekeeping In Construction Toolbox Talk

Cleanliness is next to godliness, and certainly directly next to safety. Review the basics of construction housekeeping with your crew to avoid any easily preventable hazards.
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Housekeeping In Construction Safety Talk

Construction sites are oftentimes very hectic and busy with many workers, contractors, and vendors simultaneously working together on different things within the site. These sites can present many dangers to everyone involved if proper housekeeping is not done. A tidy work area reduces the risks of injuries and can also increase fire safety.

What is Housekeeping?

Housekeeping on a construction site refers to the practice of keeping your site clean and tidy. Should you really strive to keep a construction site clean and tidy knowing there will only be another mess later? The answer is yes, you should always practice good housekeeping techniques in your work area.

Housekeeping Rules that Help

Tidying up is the last thing anyone wants to do at the end of a long day. There are some tips you can put in place that will make that job a little easier. If you implement these rules and try using them all day long you should see a reduction in injuries as well as a cleaner job site.

Housekeeping Do's

  • Designate an area for rubbish and waste
  • Stack and store materials safely
  • Maintain a safe work area
  • Keep access routes clear
  • Put tools away when you are done
  • Set a tidy example
  • If it is broken, fix it
  • Do not let cables trip you up
  • Avoid fire risks
  • Make others aware
  • Housekeeping Dont's

    There are a few things you should not do on a construction job site. These include:

  • Do not permit rubbish to fall freely from any level of the project. Use chutes or other approved devices.
  • Do not throw tools or other materials.
  • Do not raise or lower any tool or equipment by its own cable or supply hose.
  • Flammable Material

    If working with flammable and explosive materials here are a few tips to follow:

  • Store flammable or explosive materials such as gasoline, oil, and cleaning agents apart from other materials.
  • Keep flammable and explosive materials in approved containers.
  • Store full barrels in an upright position.
  • Keep gasoline and oil barrels on a barrel rack.
  • Store empty barrels separately.
  • Post signs prohibiting smoking, open flames, and other ignition sources in areas where flammable and explosive materials are stored and used.
  • Store and chain all compressed gas cylinders in an upright position.
  • Mark empty cylinders.
  • Ventilate all storage areas properly.
  • Ensure that all electrical fixtures and switches are explosion-proof where flammable materials are stored.
  • Provide the appropriate fire extinguishers for the materials found on the job site.
  • Housekeeping is not just defined as cleanliness. It includes keeping the trash picked up, keeping the floors clean, keeping work areas neat and organized. it requires that you pay close attention to the job site and important details associated with it.

    Reasons for Housekeeping

    If good housekeeping is not practiced on a job site then it tends to just become one big pile of mess. That pile can then be a big, hazardous obstacle course for everyone that works there. This can lead to injuries and accidents.

    Poor housekeeping contributes to causing accidents by hiding hazards that can cause injuries. If you accept that paper, materials, trash, and tools all over the site are normal and refuse to clean them up then you may miss when more serious health and safety hazards are present.

    Poor housekeeping can also contribute to fires. Avoid excessive storage of boxes and other combustible material. make sure stored materials never block any exit, walkways, electrical panels, or equipment.

    Accidents that Can be Caused

    Keeping a site clean and organized is an ongoing operation. Periodic or pain cleanups are not effective and are often costly and do not reduce accidents. Housekeeping must be done regularly not just at the end of the shift.Poor housekeeping can cause accidents. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Tripping over loose objects on floors, stairs, and platforms
  • Being hit by falling objects
  • Slipping on greasy, wet, or dirty surfaces
  • Striking projecting objects, poorly stacked items, or misplaced material
  • Cutting, puncturing, or tearing the skin of hands or other parts of the body on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping
  • Property damage incidents involving moving equipment or vehicles
  • Caught in/between injuries
  • The best housekeeping programs maintain order throughout the day by making it a routine task that everyone does.

    Checklist

    We all know by now that construction sites can present many hazards to workers and keeping the site clean of debris can help reduce these hazards. Here is a checklist that can help you see if your site is up to standard and what you can do to improve housekeeping.

    Working Area

  • Is safe access to the job site provided for all workers?
  • Are walking and working areas kept clear and any liquid or spilled materials cleaned up immediately?
  • Are stairways kept free of materials, supplies, and obstructions?
  • Are debris and trash picked up and placed in proper containers?
  • Are protruding nails, scrap lumber, and other debris kept clean from work areas?
  • Are structure openings covered adequately?
  • Materials and Storage

  • Are items not being used ( tools, cords, chains) stored in their proper locations?
  • Are material storage areas kept clean and free of unnecessary materials and debris?
  • Is loose scrap or light material that could be blown by high winds properly secured?
  • Are empty cement bags and other dust-producing materials removed from the work site?
  • Are materials at least 6 feet from openings, roof edges, and trenches?
  • Are nails from protruding lumbar bent over or removed?
  • Waste

  • Are trash containers with self-closing covers placed throughout the job site?
  • Are chutes provided to remove waste from the upper floors?
  • Are drip pans used to collect oil and fluids?
  • Are all scrap, waste, and surplus materials disposed of in accordance with federal regulations and local codes?
  • Are all oil-soaked and paint saturated rags, clothing, or waste placed in combustible receptacles with self-closing lids?
  • Is combustible waste scheduled for frequent collection and removal?
  • Are used oil containers and dumpsters locked to secure them from unwanted waste?
  • If your job site can not answer yes to these questions you may need better housekeeping practices and could warrant further investigation.

    The benefits of good housekeeping far exceed the small additional effort that it takes each day. It also sets the tone for a safe construction job site, making your job and other workers' job easier. If you have any questions about the housekeeping practices on your job site please ask your supervisor.

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