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Housekeeping and Safety Measures

by Mr. Kurt Mentzel


Did you know that the visible condition of your workplace is a mirror reflection of you and your commitment to your company or organization? If everything is dirty, cluttered or disorganized, it leaves the impression that you don't care. Such a work environment can contribute to waste, accidents and poor morale for the employees. It also leaves a poor impression for customers who visit.

The rewards for good housekeeping and safety include, but are not limited to:

To correct poor housekeeping and safety conditions, a process is needed to restore the workplace. A simple three-step process will be used to guide your restoration efforts.


Step 1: Sort

The sorting step involves the identification of anything that does not belong in the work area such as trash, dirt, unnecessary equipment, obsolete files, outdated information, or anything not used or required for the work that is done. This step also involves the identification of unsafe conditions or equipment that is dirty or does not function as intended. The idea is to identify the things that must be corrected to restore the work area to its intended state.

There are four activities to accomplish the sorting step as follows:

Activity 1:

Take pictures of each area to record the "before" state and to use in tracking the progress.

Activity 2:

Identify unacceptable conditions. Assign small teams to each area of the business. Each member of the team examines their assigned area and identifies items that don't belong in the area, not needed, obsolete, outdated, unsafe or not operating correctly.

Activity 3:

Remove the clutter and outdated information. It's time to take action by cleaning the area and removing anything that does not belong. This includes the removal of any type of clutter that can be thrown away immediately or removed and taken to another area for disposition. A disposition area may be required to temporarily locate items such as unused or outdated equipment and other miscellaneous iteMs It's like cleaning out a storage area and placing everything that should not be kept and then trying to decide what to do with it. Some items may be:

The disposition task may be significant enough to assign someone the responsibility to oversee it.

A dirty and disorganized work environment can contribute to waste, accidents and poor morale for the employees.

Outdated or inappropriate information should be removed. However, be careful not to remove informal process guidelines, steps, or references that may have been casually generated and placed in the area. Removing them could have serious consequences. If they are important, they should be replaced with a more formal document.

Activity 4:

Create a Housekeeping and Safety Action List. When the examination is complete and unnecessary items have been removed, there will probably be a number of checklist items that require some additional time and effort to correct. These items should be placed on a Housekeeping and Safety Action List and prioritized because it is not reasonable to expect everything to be restored at once.

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Step 2: Organize and Clean

The initial cleaning effort will be accomplished by simply removing dirt, dust, grease, or anything that was not intended to be on area surfaces such as work tables, desks, walls, and floors. Remember to use good safety practices in the cleaning process and be careful not to disturb delicate equipment.

The organization of the work area involves a simple analysis to make certain that the area is organized for efficiency, safety and functionality. The goal is "a place for everything, and everything in its place."

The analysis can be accomplished by asking three simple questions:

1. — Is the flow of material and the movement of people both efficient and safe?

If there are doubts or there have been accidents in the past, consider reorganizing the area to:

2. — Is the location of equipment and tools the most efficient and safe?

The analysis may require:

3. — Is information, including process measures, located for easy access and visibility?

If not, consider display boards or areas for posting information where it is needed.

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Step 3: Evaluate and Maintain

To evaluate the outcome of the housekeeping and safety effort, we must consider the impact on the workplace. The impact should be measurable if we are going to have a way of tracking progress in the future. There are at least two types of measures to consider:

Visual Measures are the most obvious and noticeable to all stakeholders of the workplace including customers and suppliers. As we learned early in this application, the visual workplace reflects the commitment to stewardship. The value of taking "after" pictures is to establish a visual standard. The measurement is simple: the area is either the same as, better than, or worse than the standard.

Performance Measures will likely reflect the housekeeping and safety effort in several ways such as housekeeping audit results, safety (accident level) due to housekeeping related causes and employee satisfaction of the work environment to list a few.

© 2007 Hogan Center for Performance Excellence

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About the author

Mr. Kurt Mentzel

Mr. Kurt Mentzel (USA)

Kurt Mentzel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Science (Pre-Med) degree at Austin College and is both an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer and an ASQ Certified Quality Engineer. His experience includes 26 years with Johnson & Johnson where he served in a variety of roles in manufacturing, quality assurance and executive leadership as company Quality Systems Manager. Mr. Mentzel is Vice President of the Hogan Center for Performance Excellence.


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