♦♦  CULTURE   &   SAFETY PERFORMANCE  ♦♦
Sep 2012

In this series, I share with you my thoughts on Why Safety is an Issue for Most Companies, or, putting it differently, Things we Must Address if we Want to Improve our Safety Performance. Read on to discover the hidden benefits of good housekeeping.

     

The Hidden Power of Good Housekeeping

Picture: Neat and clean personal workspace

     

Housekeeping is a dirty word for many due to a fundamental attitude issue.

Many employees see it as something over and above their job functions, whereas they really should adopt it as an integral function of their job. The result is that bad habits develop – employees do their work, clean up a little at the end of the shift and then … L … spring clean – just in time for the upcoming audit.

Some employers consider it to be not only something which does not make money, but also as a waste of money – something they have to do for cosmetic reasons or merely to please inspectors. Some even go as far as doing the bare minimum only – a good slap of paint to cover up the real problems. LL

We need to make everybody realise that poor housekeeping is a sign of a lack of order and structure, discipline and compliance. It has a direct impact on quality, productivity and safety (S.H.E.). There are few who are able to function in a mess. It is the old story of ‘a dirty place leads to a dirty mind’, i.e. muddled up thinking and confusion. People get hurt – slip, trip and fall (4 letter words) – when there is poor storage and if things are not kept neat, clean, secure and labelled. The 5S system, developed by Toyota originally, talks about Sort, Shine, Set in order, Simplify and Sustain. In S.H.E., these things do help to prevent injury and loss.

Good housekeeping has 3 hidden benefits:

  1. It makes safety highly visible and therefore problem areas surface quickly.
  2. It has a carryover in attitude towards safety rules, procedures, standards, systems and equipment.
  3. It’s a player issue. We all know what to do and don’t need a coach to hold our hand. Nothing is stopping us from working neatly, cleanly, securely and with everything labelled. It also doesn’t cost much money to have a place for everything and to put everything in its place.

Good housekeeping starts in personal work spaces – your desk, office, workbench, car, cabinet, drawer, store, toolbox, etc. It starts at home. I have looked at hundreds of personal workspaces and I can see the difference in safety attitude with ‘one eye closed’.

Do not underestimate the power of the above-mentioned three benefits of good housekeeping. If you can get good housekeeping into people’s hearts as a value, the rest of safety is much more straightforward. Make it a habit, as the leader, to become a true safety VIP for good housekeeping. Be Visible, Involved and Pro-active.

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