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Keep It Neat…Keep It Safe

dalmation-fire-enginBy Bill Tricarico
Senior Risk Management Consultant
McNeil & Company, Inc.

This is my 40th year in Risk Management and during that time I’ve visited hundreds of Fire Departments, EMS Providers, and just about every other type of emergency service agency you can think of. No matter what type of building I’ve entered, the first thing I notice is the housekeeping. The saying, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression” certainly fits here. Signs of inadequate housekeeping make a very poor first impression which is difficult to recover from. If you have members of the public coming into your building poor housekeeping will make them immediately question just how efficient your agency can possibly be.

Poor housekeeping is also a contributory cause to many different types of claims and losses. It causes slips, trips and falls to members and visitors, fires, explosions, blocked egress, equipment damage, and other problems which could result in lawsuits, injuries, and very poor publicity.

Poor housekeeping can be a cause of accidents, such as:

    • tripping over loose objects on floors, stairs and platforms
    • being hit by falling objects
    • slipping on greasy, wet or dirty surfaces
    • striking against projecting, poorly stacked items or misplaced material
    • cutting, puncturing, or tearing the skin of hands or other parts of the body on projecting nails, wire or steel strapping

Housekeeping goes well beyond cleanliness. It includes keeping work areas neat and orderly; maintaining walking surfaces free of slip and trip hazards; and re-moving of waste materials (e.g., paper, cardboard) and other fire hazards from work areas. It also requires paying attention to important details such as the lay-out of the whole building, aisle marking, the adequacy of storage areas, and maintenance. Good housekeeping is a basic component of your accident reduction and fire prevention programs.

Housekeeping doesn’t end at the doorway either. Keeping the exterior of your building clutter and trash free is an important component of your good house-keeping program. Sidewalks and driveways should be kept clear especially from ice and snow in the winter. Trash should be properly contained and arrangements in place for adequate pick-up to prevent containers from spilling over.

Proper housekeeping is not only cosmetic but will also help your organization operate more efficiently and reduce the chances of an accident or fire.

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