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Housekeeping and slips, trips and falls

Housekeeping is crucial to safe workplaces. It can help prevent injuries and improve productivity and morale, as well as make a good first impression on visitors. The practice extends from traditional offices to industrial workplaces, including factories, warehouses and manufacturing plants that present special challenges such as hazardous materials, combustible dust and other flammables. Not only should every worker should play a part in managing and maintaining good housekeeping but it should have management’s commitment in order for workers to realise its importance.

The three basic principles of good housekeeping are:

  • Inside flooring surfaces shall be capable of being kept sufficiently clean.

  • So far as is reasonably practicable, waste material shall not be allowed to accumulate except in suitable receptacles.

  • Every floor and walkway should be kept free from obstructions or any type of contamination which may cause a person to slip, trip or fall, so far as is practicable

Slips and trips are the most common cause of injury at work. On average, they cause over a third of all major injuries and can lead to other types of accidents, such as falls from height or falls into machinery. Slips and trips also account for half of all reported injuries to members of the public in workplaces where there is public access, such as hospitals, shops and restaurants.

To help prevent these accidents you need to think about what might cause slips or trips in your workplace and decide whether you are doing enough to prevent them. Once you have identified the risks you must control them:

  • Prevent floors from getting wet or contaminated in the first place

  • Have procedures in place for both routine and responsive cleaning

  • If a spillage does happen, clean it up quickly

  • If floors are left wet after cleaning, stop anyone walking on them until they are dry and use the right cleaning methods and products

  • Look out for trip hazards, such as uneven floors or trailing cables, and encourage good housekeeping by your workers

  • Make sure workers wear footwear that is suitable for the environment they are working in

  • Make sure your flooring is suitable, or floors likely to get wet are of a type that does not become unduly slippery

If a temporary obstruction is unavoidable, eg for loading and unloading, you should have a system of warning people or ideally prevent access. Don't forget contractors.

If you need any further help in establishing good housekeeping practices in your business please do not hesitate to contact us here.

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