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ISTOCK / TARRAS79

Electrical workers face a number of job hazards every day. However, poor housekeeping is often overlooked as a leading cause of injuries and fatalities in the workplace. Cluttered work sites lead to far too many preventable accidents. As a result, maintaining good housekeeping is an important element of creating a safe work environment.

The goal of any safety program, as it pertains to housekeeping, is to keep all company site offices and storage trailers, storage areas and construction work areas clean and orderly. This will help create a hazard-free work environment and help employers comply with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) housekeeping standard requirements in 29CFR 1926.25. Good housekeeping represents a good safety culture. The company safety director should develop a plan to maintain good housekeeping at the beginning of every job and ensure it is carefully supervised and executed throughout all stages of the project.

Job supervisors should ensure trash and scrap-metal containers are provided and are emptied as often as needed. Additionally, the supervisor needs to ensure garbage and other wastes are disposed of frequently and regularly. Employees share the responsibility of maintaining a clean job site. They should always pick up their own scrap materials, tools, electrical cords, etc., and place them in the proper places as work progresses.

According to OSHA 29CFR 1926.25, “During the course of construction, alteration, or repairs, form and scrap lumber with protruding nails, and all other debris, shall be kept cleared from work areas, passageways, and stairs, in and around buildings or other structures. Combustible scrap and debris shall be removed at regular intervals during the course of construction. Safe means shall be provided to facilitate such removal.”

Other common job-site dangers come in the form of slip, trip and fall hazards, but they are easy to avoid. To reduct clutter, put tools and materials away when not in use. This saves time that would be wasted looking for things, as well.

Other tips include cleaning up spills and leaks immediately to reduce slipping hazards; disposing of food, trash or other items that might attract rodents or create a breeding ground for mold and bacteria; making sure any rugs or mats lie flat to minimize trip hazards; and removing any obstacles that block pathways or aisles. This will make walking around the job site easier and safer.

Additionally, keep lighting fixtures clean for bright illumination levels and maintain aisles wide enough to accommodate people and vehicles comfortably and safely. Aisle space allows for the movement of people, products and materials. Aisles and stairways should always be kept clear and should never be used for temporary overflow or bottleneck storage. Adequate lighting should also be maintained in stairways and aisles.

Anytime workers are stripping or terminating wires, they need to sweep up pieces and scraps. Employees should try not to eat or drink in work areas, and smokers should never use the floor as an ashtray.

When working on a platform, keep it free of debris, tools and materials that aren’t needed at that time. Tools should be kept in a high-sided container, such as a bucket, when working on a platform. This will minimize chances of tools being knocked off the platform and creating struck-by hazards.

Employees should anticipate how tasks might produce hazards and minimize the risk of an accident occurring. For example, if workers have to run a portable cord across a walkway surface, they should secure it with a cord guard or tape it in place. If possible, route portable cords overhead and away from foot traffic. When using a cord on a walkway surface or stairway, run it to the side as much as possible, and secure it with tape.

In the event a worker is removing a cover from a conduit box, enclosure or panel, they should not put it on the floor. It should be placed close to the work area, but not someplace where it would be underfoot.

Finally, workers should clean as they work to maintain orderliness. Tools should be kept in suitable fixtures with marked locations to provide organized arrangements in the tool room and near the workbench. They should be returned promptly after each use to reduce the chance being misplaced or lost. Finally, employees should regularly inspect, clean and repair all tools and take any damaged or worn tools out of service.

Good housekeeping is an easy and efficient way for workers and supervisors to stay safe on the job.

About the Author

Tom O'Connor

Safety Columnist

Tom O'Connor is safety and regulatory affairs manager for Intec, a safety consulting, training and publishing firm that offers on-site assistance and produces manuals, training videos and software for contractors. Reach him at toconnor@intecweb.com.

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