In the occupational setting, housekeeping refers to the routine cleaning and organizing of the workplace. As housekeeping is an ongoing safety practice, orderly conditions in the workplace should be maintained on a consistent basis, not restored after orderliness has been allowed to slip.
Housekeeping operations in the workplace are considered to be a fundamental tenet of occupational safety and are a mandatory workplace safety activity in most jurisdictions.
HSSE WORLD explains Housekeeping
Improper housekeeping can increase the risk of a variety of accidents. These include slipping accidents if wet or otherwise soiled surfaces are not cleaned, tripping accidents if objects are not cleared from floors, and cuts or other punctures if sharp objects are not stored properly. Removing clutter from the workplace also improves safety by reducing visual distractions and removing objects that could potentially obscure hazards, making it easier to spot hazards in the work environment.
Employee exposure to certain substances such as dust may also be decreased with regular housekeeping. Additionally, housekeeping may reduce the risk of fires and facilitate the ability of employees to efficiently evacuate their workplace in the event of an emergency. Furthermore, effective cleaning activities help to protect employee health by maintaining good industrial hygiene conditions.
Regulatory agencies view housekeeping as a crucial aspect of workplace safety. OSHA maintains a variety of separate regulations that address mandatory housekeeping practices in various workplaces, such as construction and shipyard work. The UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has publicly touted a £45,000 fine levied against a convenience store after a customer was injured due to poor housekeeping. In doing so, the HSE demonstrated the emphasis that it places on good housekeeping in the workplace.