In a work setting, maintaining a safe and clean workplace is crucial to preventing injuries as well as improving the morale of employees. Not only is this beneficial for employees, but it can also help an employer avoid potential fines for failing to be in compliance with certain rules and regulations intended to protect the wellbeing of workers. Safety is important for both traditional office settings and industrial workplaces, such as factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that might contain hazardous materials, combustible dust, and other flammable materials. No matter how minimally dangerous an environment might seem safety programs should always be provided, which all workers should observe.
To help prevent injuries at work, here are some tips that explore the importance of workplace housekeeping in greater depth:
1.Prevent trips, slips, and falls: As the second leading cause of nonfatal work injuries, falls are clearly a major problem in the workplace. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers are obligated to maintain clean, orderly, and sanitary conditions in the workplace, which also includes storage rooms, passageways, and floors. In addition to keeping all floors clean and dry, employers must ensure they select the proper type of flooring, depending on the nature of the work.
It is recommended that all employers observe the following safety precautions to prevent slips and falls:
- Report and clean spills or leaks
- Keep all aisles and exits clear of obstructions
- Maintain flooring or replace any worn, ripped or damaged flooring
- If an area cannot be thoroughly cleaned, install anti-slip flooring
- Use drip pans and guards
All surfaces should always be free of projecting nails, holes, splinters, and any other hazardous issues that might arise and require maintenance.
2.Address potential fire hazards: It is important for every employee to understand which materials are dangerous and unnecessary to keep in the work area. All combustible materials and waste should be stored appropriately and disposed of daily. Below are some critical safety measures for fire safety:
- Keep any necessary combustible materials in small amounts and only when they are needed for a job. If they are not needed, move them to an assigned area for safe storage.
- Quick-burning, flammable materials should be stored away from ignition sources and kept in designated locations.
- All employees should avoid contaminating their clothes with flammable liquids. If clothes do become contaminated, they must be changed.
- Passageways and emergency fire exits should be free of obstructions and all stairwell doors should be kept closed.
- Flammable materials should be kept at least 18 inches away from automatic sprinklers, fire extinguishers, and sprinkler controls. However, while 18 inches is required, 24 to 36 inches is recommended.
- Electrical hazards should always be reported and fixed in a timely manner.
3.Control dust: Excessive dust presents a safety hazard and can potentially start a fire or explosion. According to the National Fire Protection Association, vacuuming is the preferred method of cleaning, though sweeping and water wash-down are other acceptable options. For inaccessible or unsafe surfaces, using compressed air or steam is allowed to rid these areas of dust.
Dust not only presents a fire hazard, but can affect equipment and the quality of products, so it is in an employer’s best interest to practice effective house housekeeping methods.
4.Avoid tracking materials: To prevent the spread of hazardous materials to other areas in the workplace or home, work area mats should be kept clean and regularly maintained. Depending on the material the mat is made of, different cleaning protocols might be required to avoid cross-contamination. If employees are working with toxic materials, these clothes should not be worn at home.
5.Prevent falling objects: Safety precautions should be taken to prevent objects from falling on employees. For example, boxes and materials should be stacked straight up and down to keep them from falling. Heavy objects should be kept on lower shelves and equipment should be kept away from the edges of desks and tables.
6.Clear the clutter: Cluttered workspaces can present an innumerable amount of dangers. When areas are cluttered, you can get cut, trip, or have an accident caused by a lack of space. Always keep aisles, stairways, and all entrances and exits free of clutter and empty trash receptacles before they overflow.
Following these simple rules can allow both employees and employers enjoy a safer workspace where all can focus on the tasks at hand rather than on being concerned or fearing for their safety.
Protecting Your Rights After a Workplace Accident
If you have recently been injured on the job, you have a right to receive workers’ compensation. Your employer and site manager have an obligation to create a safe workspace, regardless of the industry you work in and, failing to do so can result in severe injuries, resulting in lost wages, or even the inability to return to work. Unfortunately, injured workers are not always provided the financial support they deserve. Employers and their insurers often try to circumvent their duties and deny their employees the full and just compensation they deserve.
At Erskine & McMahon LLP, our Longview legal team has nearly 100 years of combined experience filing workers’ compensation claims for injured workers in the area. We have the knowledge and skill to address any concerns you might have regarding your claim or the benefits you might be entitled to.
Contact us today at (903) 500-2490 to schedule a free consultation.