With concern for “occupational health and safety” rising in offices, the role of ideal housekeeping practices has assumed added significance.
Good office housekeeping practices protect people from a variety of possible injuries and illnesses, including manual handling injuries, electrical and tripping hazards and infections. It also ensures a pleasant and clean workplace.
Some aspects of good office housekeeping practices:
Storage facilities need to be maintained and reviewed periodically to ensure that they are functioning safely. They should be easily accessible to employees and organised so that handling risk is minimised.
Every cleaning product should be stored in a container and clearly labelled. Common cleaning products can also be harmful chemical substances if an accident occurs.
Electrical extension cords on floors can be trip hazards. They are also easily damaged by trolleys and chair castors, and can become a hazard.
Overloading power boards and using unauthorised or modified plugs can lead to electrocution or fire. Frayed power cords also increase the risk of these hazards. A qualified electrician should be engaged to provide additional outlets to avoid overloading.
Slips, trips and falls
Slip and trip hazards — a major source of office accidents and injuries — can often be avoided by the prompt clean-up of spilled materials, especially on the high-gloss tiles used today. Falls are also likely if chairs are used as steps to reach upper storage levels, and on poorly-designed or badly-lit stairwells or worn stair edges.
The collection, disposal and recycling of waste paper should be planned and maintained to minimise disruption and hazards in the office.
The location and use of paper-shredding machines should take into account the noise they generate and the mess from spillage when they are emptied.
The placement of paper into a shredder can be hazardous if clothing such as ties become trapped. Shredders with an angled entry chute should be used.
Storage facilities are available in my office, but they are always full
A system to review items held in storage areas is required. Old telephone books and redundant files can take up valuable space unless someone takes responsibility to dispose them of. Broken equipment should be repaired or replaced rapidly, and not allowed to accumulate. A labelling system can assist the management of storage.
Aisles in my office are always clogged with cartons and trolleys
It is useful to set aside an area for items like cartons waiting to be packed or unpacked. This avoids the use of aisles and passages as temporary storage space.
We have extension cables all over the office
Extension cords and electrical cables, which are waiting to trip unwary staff members, should not be allowed to lie on floors because they are also vulnerable to water and physical damage. More power-points should be installed and cords and cables properly housed along walls or within partitions.
If extension cables are used, they should be linked to power boards with built-in safety fuses and switches for each outlet. Cords and cables can be temporarily taped onto door frames and pillars to get them off the floor, but permanent power points should be installed as soon as possible.
|KEEP IN MIND
|• Identify hazards Checklists can help the housekeeping staff identify hazards. Surveys of staff on housekeeping are also a valuable source of information
• Be regular Housekeeping is best approached in a pro-active manner by undertaking a series of small but regular tasks, which are better than a single, large, irregular clean-up
A poorly organised relocation process can result in a staff member who is not regularly involved in lifting, carrying, pushing and pulling, undertaking unusual and inappropriate tasks.
The following approaches are recommended:
• Appoint a “move coordinator” to organise a systematic, sequential relocation with allocated staff roles
• Hire relevant moving personnel and/or equipment. Organise trolleys, ladders, boxes and protective equipment
• Inform staff members what manual handling they should not undertake, that is, the excessive or awkward loads
• Give adequate notice to employees regarding timing of removal and delivery of furniture to allow them to plan
(The author is an interior design consultant, specialising in the design of corporate and residential interiors. As a senior faculty member at a Calcutta institute, she has delivered lectures, guided research and conducted projects in the field of Housing & Interior Design for over two decades. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)