Too Much Stuff, Too Much Risk

Too Much Stuff, Too Much Risk--Avoid Trouble with a Health and Safety Plan--Call to Action!If your office space is piled high with stacks of paper, old files and sample products, you have a safety problem. Clutter quickly takes on a life of its own, overwhelming the environment, choking pathways and teetering on shelves, threatening to fall off.  An effective health and safety plan should have guidelines to eliminate clutter build up.

The physical danger from clutter is real. The humans working in a cluttered environment get used to it in short order, eventually not even seeing potential dangers.

Specific dangers in a cluttered environment abound. Injuries can happen from a range of problems, including:

  • banging your head on objects overhanging shelving or pallets
  • tripping over boxes or piles in walkways
  • missing the danger from loose boards or flooring that is covered up by clutter
  • getting hit by items falling off shelves or pallets
  • allowing fire to spread quickly by igniting clutter when a fire breaks out

Setting down a box of old files off to the side in a corridor may seem like a good way to get it out of the way temporarily. The problem is that one box soon leads to another on top, then another alongside. Soon the pathway is more like an obstacle course.  50 things you must know about safety leadership

Even small obstacles are dangerous. If piles are unexpected, people will trip over them. Stringing an electrical cord across a walkway because it’s too much trouble to install a new outlet invites tripping.

Psychological Dangers

Clutter leads directly to a slackening of overall safety concerns on the part of everyone on the site. If management doesn’t seem to be interested in safety, the attitude eventually infiltrates the thinking of everyone in the area.

Workplace studies show that employees in a cluttered environment show more stress and less motivation than those in clean and organized areas. It just makes sense that it is far easier to be productive when you can find things and aren’t fighting obstacles at every turn.

When a worker needs to search constantly for the right file or supply, it slows down the work flow and creates stress.

Good Housekeeping = Safe Workplace

Setting standards for workplace cleanliness and organization with a health and safety plan will create a safe environment. It also establishes an atmosphere conducive to productivity and efficiency.

The most basic rule in offices and storage areas is to keep all pathways and corridors free of boxes, piles, equipment and tools. If supplies are packed on pallets, they need to be correctly stacked so they stay in place and are out of the walkways. Anything that can be tripped over needs to be moved.

Storage space should be adequate. Files, paperwork and equipment need to have ample shelf space, file drawers and containers available. This stops the mindless piling of items on top of each other, which can eventually result in tipping over onto someone.

fctc-online-bannerThere should be enough electrical outlets installed so that cords aren’t laid over walkways. Anything protruding on the floor or off the walls needs to be removed.

Keeping control of clutter results in a safer work environment. It also reduces worker stress and encourages a productivity and streamlined work flow.

~Mary Hannick

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About the Author

safetyBUILT-IN is the safety-leadership learning and development division of SCInc. We believe sustainable safety performance is best achieved through a core-values based safety culture, and that culture must be driven by leadership. Our safety-leadership programs are competency-based, and focused on performance outcomes. We believe in building capability and ownership into our client organizations—as well as sustainability into our programs—so that our clients can continue running those programs long after we’re out of the picture. Our emphasis is on building better leadership presence, better leadership communication and better leadership coaching by first building relationships of trust with people and learning how to engage them on the level of their core values and beliefs.