According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 4,340 fatal work injuries in the U.S. in 2009. Of those fatalities, 41 percent were in production-based industries, 304 (7% of the total) were specifically in manufacturing. A closer look at the numbers shows that falls or strikes caused the majority of those fatalities. Both of these are injury causes that can be prevented inside a plant with good housekeeping.
Think of the accidents called “freak accidents” or “catastrophic” where the right elements combined to create a situation that was never believed to be likely. This includes a 2008 dust explosion that killed 14 workers and caused millions of dollars in losses. There are many other examples, but the causes are usually the same—human error or negligence. According to the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety, the culprit in many so-called “freak accidents” is poor housekeeping.
What does Housekeeping have to do with it?
Manufacturing facilities are usually adept at tending to the preventive and regular maintenance of machinery, but often overlook several key safety precautions in and around the plant. Housekeeping includes dust and dirt removal through sweeping, mopping, waxing, and general cleaning, as well as cleaning up liquid and particle spills, as well as trash removal and organizing the plant floor. These seemingly minor tasks can prevent accidents in and around the plant by removing:
- Slip, trip and fall hazards
- Items from the aisles and doors to facilitate a quick exit during fire
- Debris pileups that can lead to a strike injury
- Communicative pathogens that thrive on unhygienic conditions
- Fire hazards
- Puncture hazards from poorly maintained facility components (like a nail sticking out of a post)
Housekeeping removes these hazards, greatly improving the worklpace safety at your plant.
Sure, it still all boils down to cleaning up your workplace, which can sound mundane, and it’s probably something you’re doing to some extent already. However, the ramifications of such a mundane task can’t be overlooked. In addition to your obligation to keep your employees safe, the company can be exposed to negligence claims as wells as fines for violating OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations on housekeeping. Failing to clean up can be costly in more ways than one.
Eagle Technologies Group is an industry leader in the design and installation of factory automation systems worldwide.