Requiring good housekeeping and hygiene in your construction job sites can have a spillover effect to your overall workplace safety.
A policy of workplace hygiene in itself encourages good housekeeping at construction sites, and provides workers with clean drinking water, sanitary restrooms and washing facilities to clean up. These practices reduce the chances of cross-contamination to safeguard everyone’s health and safety.
Stray equipment and tools are a danger to everyone at the worksite. If you have a policy that the workplace must be tidy and all equipment and tools stowed after their use, you can greatly reduce the chances of workplace accidents.
Require that your workers:
Clean the jobsite after major tasks, or at least daily;
- Make sure there is no build-up of hazardous, flammable or combustible materials.
- Stack scrap lumber out of the way and remove protruding nails.
- Keep walkways, stairs and work areas clear.
- Make sure that walking surfaces are as level as possible.
Clean drinking water can be provided by plumbed drinking fountains or with clean portable containers.
Make sure that potable water containers are clearly labeled and have drinking fountain spouts or faucets that can be used to fill single-use water cups. Remember: Water should not be dipped from the container repeatedly with the same cup.
If there is a non-potable water source on the site, make sure that you clearly label that the water is not safe for drinking, washing or cooking.
OSHA requires that you have separate bathroom facilities for every 20 employees (or fewer) of each sex on a job site. For example, if there are 30 men and 10 women, three bathrooms are required. The bathrooms may contain a toilet and urinal, but half of them must have a toilet.
If there are fewer than five employees on a job site, separate bathrooms for each sex are not required if they can be locked and contain a toilet.
Bathrooms should be private and in good working order, with an adequate supply of toilet paper. Inspect and clean bathroom facilities daily.
Make sure that you also have facilities for your workers to wash their hands. They can wash away harmful substances and use the washing area to service and decontaminate personal protective equipment.
This is especially important to workers using potentially harmful substances such as paints, coatings, solvents or other materials.
Having a washing station helps your employees avoid cross-contamination before eating, drinking, smoking or heading home for the day. It also helps them avoid getting sick later by eating with the same hands that may have been exposed to a hazardous substance.
One washing station is required by OSHA for every 20 (or fewer) employees on a jobsite. Wash areas should be clean, with a good supply of water and soap, other skin-cleansing agents, or special hazardous-substance cleansing compounds. Wash stations require single-use drying towels or a warm-air hand dryer.
Washing facilities must be located outside of the portable toilet but convenient to bathroom facilities, and should be labeled. On jobsites with fewer than five employees and only one portable toilet facility, the washing facility may be located inside the portable toilet station.
- Make sure all of your staff understand that it is their duty to help ensure good hygiene.
- Urge them to immediately report unsanitary or hazardous conditions on the jobsite to their supervisor.
- Urge them to keep the worksite tidy, by cleaning as they go and keeping the site clear of debris, trash and hazardous substances.
- Urge them to use washing facilities to clean their hands and avoid cross-contamination to ensure a healthy work environment for all.
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