Safety Starts with Good Housekeeping

On construction sites, good housekeeping is simply the best practice of keeping your work area clean and tidy. With all the hazards that come with working in the construction industry, you might question why something as simple as good housekeeping is so vital to safety.

To answer, there are several repercussions from poor housekeeping practices that nobody wants to experience:

  • INJURIES – when employees trip, fall, or are struck by out-of-place objects.
  • INJURIES – from using improper tools because the correct tool cannot be found.
  • LOWERED PRODUCTION – due to the time spent maneuvering over and around someone else’s mess.
  • TIME SPENT – investigating and reporting accidents that could have been avoided.
  • FIRES – from improper storage and disposal of flammable or combustible materials and waste.
  • SUBSTANDARD QUALITY – of finished projects because of schedule delays, ill-equipped employees, etc.
  • LACK OF FUTURE WORK – due to a reputation for messy job sites or poor quality.

The above are just a few of the reasons Helmkamp takes good housekeeping and overall safety so seriously. Not only is ‘Good Housekeeping’ an OSHA Workplace Safety Requirement, but it is also the very minimum expectation of our crew members and subcontractors that work on our projects. Clean workplaces are safer workplaces, but they are also more efficient workplaces. When a site is organized and tidy, everyone knows where everything is. Less time is spent looking for things and more time is spent getting them done.

Good housekeeping is the responsibility of everyone on the construction site. It’s important for each person to be vigilant with it. When things are messy or out of place, never think “It’s not my mess” or “I’ll only look out for myself” and leave a hazard for another person. Showing respect and responsibility for ourselves and each other to have clear work areas proves to increase the quality and safety of our work and to those who use the same materials, tools, or equipment after us.

It is also important to set an example for new crew members. They may not understand Helmkamp’s safety expectations, or they may not be experienced or familiar enough to recognize the hazards of poor housekeeping. Lead good housekeeping efforts on your construction site by:

  • PAYING ATTENTION – Walk the layout and routes of your work area and look for trouble areas, items that could be tripping hazards, out of place, or need a designated place.
  • CLEARING OBSTRUCTIONS – Keep work areas clear and prevent trips and falls by removing cords, tools, materials and other hazards off stairs and walkways.
  • PUTTING THINGS AWAY – Make a habit of cleaning up as you go and pick up after yourself. Put tools, equipment, PPE, and materials in their designated place and make sure workers allow for time to do this at the end of their shift.
  • COMMUNICATING – Require a commitment from everyone on the construction site up front. Having everyone understand the safety culture and on the same housekeeping routines will help minimize daily safety risks.

It is Helmkamp’s goal to take safety to a higher level by having a consistent focus on housekeeping. It is an area that can easily be taken for granted and can always be improved, but it takes every one of us. Remind yourself and each other that it might not be your mess, but it could be someone else’s injury and we want everyone to be able to go home safely at the end of each day. Having a role in safety means starting by keeping a jobsite orderly and it is a minimum best practice to ensure it.