Knock, Knock…Housekeeping!

Cleanliness is the Hallmark of perfect standards, and the best quality inspector is the conscience.

J. R. D. Tata

US has gone crazy over decluttering – thanks Marie Kondo! But, decluttering isn’t limited to your house. Don’t worry, we’re not talking about fresh towels and a bed turn-down. Seriously, good housekeeping practices (yes, even dusting those nooks and crannies!) amount to a huge impact in mitigating risk at your facilities.

What do you think of when you hear the word “housekeeping?” Cleanliness? Things tidied and in their spots? Simple things like these all contribute to the housekeeping program in a workplace setting. In risk management, housekeeping goes beyond creating a good first impression. It involves changing or creating new, proactive maintenance habits to ensure that any risks that could potentially create or fuel a fire are minimized.

First things first: almost everything in your facility (and the materials that it is comprised of) can be considered fuel for a fire.  Think about it – there’s wood, plastic, wiring, dust (yes, that’s combustible! And we’ll talk more about that at another time) amongst other things. That storage room that’s accumulated boxes of papers, old electronics and other random items – you got it…fuel, fuel, and more fuel.

So, what can you do to ensure optimal housekeeping practices? Here are some action items to consider:

  1. Identify critical production materials. Do you really need all those packaging materials (i.e., cardboard, plastic) where they are currently? That cardboard can sure get the fire going in no time. Maybe there’s an opportunity to store some items off-site, but near enough to not impact run time.
  2. Next up is critical equipment. Ensuring that machinery and other equipment is clean can prevent overheating to minimize premature failure and/or prevent it from becoming an ignition source.
  3. Back to those storage areas we mentioned earlier. Hoarding just doesn’t happen at home. You want to make sure that they are arranged to prevent the spread of a fire and that all aisles are clear. Also, ensure that the height of items stored does not overwhelm the fire sprinkler systems.

Remember, housekeeping best practices for your facility should aim to go beyond merely giving the impression of order and cleanliness. Establishing and enforcing a standard for housekeeping can also affect the internal culture of your organization. Standards provide people with an expectation of what needs to be done, and when people can meet, or even exceed, these expectations they take pride in what they do and what they have accomplished.  Creating a positive and safe work environment sparks joy in your employees.

Source: Browne, G. “Good Risk Housekeeping.” Risk & Insurance, 10 Apr. 2017.


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