How often at work have you heard the phrase “good housekeeping practices”? No, I am not referring to your ability to make a bed or wash dishes, but the area maintenance habits that you practice at work.
An office doesn’t normally strike people as being a dangerous place to work, but every year thousands of office workers in North America are injured in on-the-job accidents. Good housekeeping at work can perform magic to keep you safe from slips, trips, falls and fires
How does your work area rate on this safety check list?
Slips can be caused by spilled liquids or improper maintenance. Are the floors clean and free of ice, mud, water or coffee spills? Do you wipe up small messes immediately and report larger ones to the maintenance department?
Trash can also be a source of slips and falls as well as fires. Do you place all of your trash in your waste-paper basket or recycling container?
Speaking of fire hazards, if you smoke do you only do so in the assigned areas? Do you use a designated covered metal can for emptying ashtrays? This is one type of trash which should never be placed in a waste-paper basket.
Abused electrical cords can be another source of fire. Are the electrical cords for your printers, computers, monitors, fax machines and photocopiers in good condition? Inspect yours regularly and report any cords which appear to be worn, broken or lacking pieces of insulation.
While you are looking at the condition of your electrical cords, consider whether they are a tripping hazard as well. Are they routed away from traffic areas? Perhaps you may have to consider changing the office equipment layout to prevent people from walking on or over the electrical cords.
Do you keep your work and traffic areas free of tripping hazards for co-workers? Old files, such as the month and year-end reports, should be stored in proper boxes and moved to a central storage area.
Other tripping hazards are loose, worn or frayed carpets and unsecured small rugs or mats. Do you regularly report any problems to your supervisor or the maintenance staff?
Is the office furniture kept in good repair to maintain safety? Defective furniture such as chairs should be removed from service immediately.
Flammable liquids such as solvents and art supplies should be stored in approved containers which are kept closed. They should be kept in areas with adequate ventilation and away from any possible sources of ignition.
Do you keep combustible substances, such as paper and cardboard, away from heat sources such as electrical heaters? Paper being saved for recycling should be picked up regularly so that it does not accumulate and present a fire hazard.
Make sure that fire exits remain clear. Never place furniture or supplies in front of a fire exit – even just temporarily.
Fire doors, which are designed to slow the spread of fire, should be kept closed as directed. Never prop open a fire door just to facilitate traffic or to let in a breeze.
These are just a few of the hazards which can be found in offices. By being aware of them and developing good housekeeping habits, you can help work a little magic in our office.