Construction site cleanup is an integral step to jobsite safety. Clutter and debris can cause serious injuries and may even ignite a fire. Construction site cleanup is not only in the best interest of the site crew, it is also a requirement of OSHA.
An often tragic result of a housekeeping failure is the disposal of rags soaked in a flammable liquid. This resulted in a major fire when a building was undergoing a renovation and a pile of varnish soaked rags were disposed of in a corner. The rags ignited spontaneously and spread throughout the room. This facility did have working fire sprinklers that activated, containing the fire to the room of ignition. Although this facility had fire sprinklers, lessening the damage to the structure, the fire would have never ignited if not for the lack of housekeeping. Fires can also happen during construction from welding or using tools that can cause a spark around flammable liquids or dust clouds.
Good housekeeping has many benefits beyond fire hazard safety. According to OSHA, cluttered working conditions are distracting, unsafe, and unsanitary. The continuous effort to keep a tidy jobsite improves morale, encourages good work habits, saves time, and promotes safety.
Here are some tips for keeping an organized work area:
- Separate scrap from usable material, and store the scrap pieces in a tidy pile.
- Clean up as you go, waiting until the end of the week allows the hazards to pile up.
- Assign chores each day. Give two people the job of disposing of litter, one person the job of organizing tools, one person the job of disposing of flammable rags, etc.
- Send extraneous supplies back to the supply yard ASAP.
- Keep all work areas and passageways clear of scraps, protruding nails, wires, buckets, extension cords, tools, and other hazards.
- If you see a hazard, clean it or alert a supervisor of the hazard. Don’t wait until someone gets hurt.
Follow these simple steps to provide safer working conditions for all construction site personnel.