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Toolbox Talk - Housekeeping

Toolbox Talk - Housekeeping

Disclaimer: This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. However, it is to be used for reference purposes only and is not intended to cover all aspects of the topic presented.


A job that looks clean, with everything in its place, is a safe job. That's what we mean when we talk about job housekeeping. Good housekeeping calls for just two things:

1. Keep trash and loose objects picked up and dispose of them.

2. Pile all materials and park all tools and equipment in the places where they belong.

Putting the rules to work is not so simple. A grand cleanup once a week won't do the trick. Housekeeping is a job that can't be put off. We have to do it, and it's up to each individual to be their own job housekeeper. When you see something lying around where it could trip an individual or fall on them, put it in a safe place. Don't wait for someone else to do it. If it's something that he or she will be looking for, you can put it safely where they can see it.

Some jobs have walkways, aisles, stairs and ladders to get from one place to another. It's particularly important that these lines of travel be kept safe and clear of loose objects. Workers often carry loads on these routes. They can't always pick their steps or look around to be sure that nothing is going to trip them or fall on them. A wet, icy or greasy walkway may cause a bad accident. If you see a treacherous spot, make it your business to do some sweeping, mopping, salting or scraping.

Brick, tile, pipe, steel rods and similar materials scattered about the job or insecurely piled on scaffolds or platforms can cause accidents. All material should be piled in the place set aside for it. Each kind of material has its own characteristic. But some rules for piling apply to all kinds:

  • Consider how the material is going to be taken out of the pile. If it's going to be a fast-moving operation with a big tonnage being unloaded in a short time, be sure to leave space for the worker and the equipment that will have to do the work.
  • Be courteous. Never pile material in such a way that it will endanger a worker who has to work on it, or will make a backbreaking job for the worker who breaks down the pile.

Other points to think about are:

  1. The strength of the support if you're piling material on a floor, platform or scaffold.
  2. The stability of the ground if you're piling a heavy load.
  3. The height of the pile so it won't topple.
  4. The need for building racks if it's pipe or rods you have to stack.
  5. The wisdom of waiting for the proper equipment to handle structural steel and other heavy material.



We all know the value of good lighting in job housekeeping. Poor lighting and accidents go together. When you find a light out, report it and get a replacement.

It's not hard to keep a job clean if all useless materials, boxes, scrap lumber and other trash are picked up and removed regularly. Remember, if they're allowed to accumulate for even a few days, the job becomes a messy and unsafe place to work.



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Posted on Tuesday, May 01, 2012 (Archive on Thursday, June 05, 2014)
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