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The Importance of Good Housekeeping

Cleaning up grain dust in feed mill facility

Good housekeeping is a way to eliminate many hazards often cited as violations of the OSHA's General Duty Clause, such as blocked entrances and exits; sticking doors; slip, trip, and fall hazards; lack of or improperly stocked first-aid kits; cuts and lacerations from bent/protruding objects on walls/floors.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.22(a) Facility Housekeeping states the following:

  • All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.
  • The floor of every workroom shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places should be provided where practicable.
  • To facilitate cleaning, every floor, working place, and passageway shall be kept free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards.

In addition, OSHA 29CFR 1910.272(j) states employers must develop, implement, and maintain a written housekeeping program that reduces accumulations of fugitive dust on ledges, floors, equipment, and other surfaces. Fugitive grain dust is defined as combustible particles of a particular size.

For grain elevators, the housekeeping program must address fugitive grain dust accumulations in the following priority areas:

  • Floor areas within 35 feet (10.7 m) of inside bucket elevators
  • Floors of enclosed areas containing grinding equipment
  • Floors of enclosed areas containing grain dryers located inside the facility.

Fugitive grain dust accumulations shall not exceed 1/8 inch (.32 cm) at priority housekeeping areas.

The use of compressed air to blow dust from ledges, walls, and other areas shall only be permitted when all machinery that presents an ignition source in the area is shut down and all other known potential ignition sources in the area are removed or controlled.

Grain and product spills shall not be considered fugitive grain dust accumulations. However, the facility housekeeping program shall address the procedures for removing such spills from the work area.

It's a good idea to start any safety program with a written housekeeping procedure. Good housekeeping is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to promote safety at your facility. Good housekeeping reduces injuries and accidents, improves morale, reduces fire potential, and can even make operations more efficient.

Tips for establishing good housekeeping habits include:

  • Establish daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning procedures.
  • Identify cleanliness and safety expectations for all staff; for example, spills — particularly liquids spilled on the floor — need to be wiped up immediately.
  • Require staff to maintain a clean workspace as part of their performance objectives.
  • Establish a roster of individuals responsible for clean-up

Checklist for housekeeping:

  • Clear debris and make sure that alleyways and exits are not blocked.
  • Supply adequate trash receptacles to accommodate the amount of trash generated daily.
  • See that trash is disposed of at least once a day.
  • Store toxic and flammable materials in a secure location, and make sure they are clearly marked.
  • Minimize dust to reduce the potential for illness or allergic reaction.
  • Store materials in such a way that they are not in danger of falling over.
  • Do not allow water to stand and/or drip; this will prevent the formation of mold and mildew.
  • Provide adequate lighting.
  • Make sure facility floor areas that cannot be cleaned continuously, like entranceways, have anti-slip surfaces.
  • See that work areas are clean and orderly and that spills are cleaned up promptly.
  • Make sure bathrooms are cleaned and restocked daily.
  • Impress on employees the importance of their daily involvement in keeping the workplace clean and safe.

Written by Zac Jaber, Environmental Health, Quality and Safety Manager