An untidy project is invariably an unsafe project.
You’ve probably heard this many times before, but it’s usually true. Materials, tools and equipment, stored and stacked untidily, results in dangerous situations and often accidents.
A messy construction site can result in:
- Items lying untidily on the site create trip hazards.
- It forces workers to take alternative routes to bypass the obstructions, making these routes congested and dangerous.
- Poor stacking can result in the materials becoming dislodged and toppling on to people or equipment.
- Tools and equipment poorly stored or left lying on the ground may be damaged by being stood on, driven over, or water and dust entering them, which causes damage and may make them unsafe.
- Materials and equipment badly stored on scaffolding and elevated structures can fall off, damaging the item, the equipment they fall on, and possibly injuring or killing people below, so they should be stacked neatly, where they cannot be accidentally bumped and dislodged from their positions (even an item, such as a bolt, dropped from height can cause serious injury).
- Loose debris can become missiles in windy conditions causing damage and injury. Keep loose items contained and trash in a dumpster.
- Emergency and evacuation routes can become obstructed.
- Trash can create a fire risk.
- Trash can attract vermin.
- Trash can clog storm water drains resulting in flooding.
- Trash can spill or blow onto neighboring properties resulting in unhappy neighbors.
Good housekeeping is not only essential for safety but often increases efficiency because materials and equipment are readily available, can be easily located, and leaves walkways and work areas accessible and easy to work on. It also creates a good impression with the client and their representatives and gives the impression that the project is well organized and managed.
I have also found when a safety inspector, or client, walk on to a neat site, they are less likely to take a critical look at the safety, yet, should they walk onto an untidy and disorganised site, it’s almost certain they will look at the operations with a critical eye, finding even the smallest safety violations!
Materials and tools left lying around the project get damaged, lost or stolen, which impacts productivity and costs money to repair or replace. Searching for misplaced tools wastes time.
Enforce good housekeeping from the start of the project because it’s difficult to change people’s poor habits part way through. It’s often just as easy to stack an item neatly, as it is to throw it randomly on the ground, and it doesn’t take any longer to put an item of equipment back into its storage container than leaving it lying around.
Is your project site tidy? Does your team look after their equipment and materials?
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