Effective housekeeping can eliminate many workplace hazards and as a result, help maintain a safe workplace. On the contrary, poor housekeeping can frequently contribute to accidents by hiding hazards that cause injuries. In organizations where the sight of paper, debris, clutter and spills in the working premises is accepted as normal, other more serious health and safety hazards may be taken for granted.
I recently finished reading a great book on effectively building good habits called “The Power of Habits” written by Charles Duigg. I was very taken by a certain section of the book which talked about our brains being productivity drivers which on a subconscious level constantly seeks more efficiency. It explained that our brains quickly transform many tasks and behaviors into habits so that we can perform them without thinking, thus allowing us to free more brainpower to concentrate on new challenges.
The book goes on to discuss the powerful concept of “small wins”. Small and easy to do micro-habits which could eventually lead to major habitual changes. I got thinking of this concept in terms of small habits that can ultimately lead to any organization’s goal when it comes to quality, environment, welfare, health or safety. Developing a strong culture, having employees demonstrate visible safety leadership and ultimately reducing injuries and accidents is surely the goal of every safety conscious organization these days.
Building good housekeeping habits throughout any organization can very much be classed as one of those “small wins”, a habit that will ultimately start affecting other areas of the organization in a positive way. Applying good housekeeping practices can ultimately have a very strong effect on numerous other areas of health and safety. Areas which are likely to naturally improve with time.
I have had the pleasure of working with numerous organizations over the last 15 years and I have always found that the best establishments when it came to health and safety performance displayed very strong housekeeping habits. On the contrary, companies that did not, often reported a more significant number of health and safety accidents. Recently learning about the concept of “small wins” and its effect on other habitual changes made this correlation so much more clear.
The following are key positive changes good housekeeping practices will naturally help create within a workplace:
1. Efficient Production: efficient production and a good working environment are complementary to each other. The elimination of inefficiencies and accident hazards caused by unfavorable conditions in the workplace allows the job to be done safely and in a proper way.
2. Better Employee Welfare: A tidy and well-organized work environment sets a tone in which the work is enjoyed by the employees. It encourages many good work habits and much research has shown its effect on reducing overall workplace fatigue.
3. Better workplace relationships: Good housekeeping can provide a general lift in moral and enhance relationships and communication between employees in general. That communication is key to addressing safety issues and enhancing workplace safety values.
These practices also reflect the attitude of management towards healthy practices. Good housekeeping and cleanliness reflect pride in the workplace, which signals that the organization has a healthy work culture.
4. Housekeeping creates good PR: Since good housekeeping and cleanliness leaves a good impression on the organizational visitors, these activities promote the overall image of the organization. New employees joining the company for the first have more confidence in the organization they have just joined since they notice that the work is being carried out efficiently in clean, pleasant, and well-ordered surroundings.
In general, focusing on good housekeeping practices can have a major effect on eliminating behavioral based workplace injuries that are most commonly faced in industry. Injuries as a result of slips, trips, falls, caught in-between or struck by falling or moving objects and many others. The practice can also very much contribute to fire safety efforts within an organization.
When reviewing a company’s safety performance or deciding on an area to focus when it comes to health, safety, and environmental efforts, if you have not yet decided on the next safety campaign to promote through your company, or if you are just looking for your first step to improving safety behaviors, choosing to consistently push housekeeping as a key behavior would probably be your best starting point.