AHPA Insider: HR Advice Online – Workplace Housekeeping

Workplace Housekeeping

When we think of housekeeping, we think vacuuming, mopping, dusting and polishing surfaces. Workplace housekeeping is well beyond this and is a mandatory factor in workplace safety.

Ensuring your workplace incorporates housekeeping into everyday life can prevent injuries, improve productivity and morale, minimise risk of potential fines and challenges of non-compliance and makes a really good first impression on any visitors to your business.

It is everyone’s responsibility to incorporate housekeeping and by implementing detailed safety programs and demonstrating management’s commitment, it will quickly become second nature to all.

Hazards vary from office buildings, warehouses, factories, and manufacturing plants and can include, slips tips and falls, fire hazards, falling objects and clutter, just to name a few! Let’s explore these in more detail:

Slips, Trips and Falls

From tripping over an electrical cord, to slipping on a wet surface, to falling downstairs, slips trips and falls can be minor, but can also end in a serious injury.

Tips for the prevention of slips, trips and falls may include:

  • Keeping all walkways and pedestrian access ways clear and free from clutter and debris.
  • Clean up any/all spills, ensuring correct protocols when hazardous.
  • Ensure flooring is adequate and undamaged, replacing/repairing any damages.
  • Keep stairways clear at all times.
  • Use signage to notify of wet areas/no access areas and use anti slip flooring/mats.
  • Use mirrors for blind spots.
  • Ensure adequate lighting at all times.
  • Ensure cables and cords are tucked away from foot traffic areas or are taped down.

Fire Hazards

From toast getting caught in the toaster to chemicals or materials catching light, fires can be toxic, dangerous and deadly. Ensure you have the right safety equipment at hand such as fire blankets, extinguishers and working fire alarms.

Tips to reduce your risks include:

  • Combustible materials should only be kept in the work area in amounts required for the job.
  • When not used, combustible materials are to be kept in an assigned safe storage area.
  • Any flammable materials should be stored in designated areas away from any ignition source.
  • Ensure fire doors are free from obstructions.
  • Ensure fire extinguishers, hoses and sprinklers are free from obstructions.
  • Ensure clothing contaminated with flammable liquids are changed immediately.
  • Electrical hazards can be minimised by conducting electrical test and tagging and disposal of damaged electrical equipment.

Falling Objects

From coffee cups falling off the edge of a desk, to large objects falling from a height, falling objects can stub a toe or potentially badly maim or injure someone.
Take precautions such as:

  • Place heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Keep equipment away from the edge of desks and benches.
  • Use appropriate equipment to ensure items are secure when stacked or shelved such as netting, cages etc.
  • Screw shelving units to the wall to prevent them falling forward.
  • Ensure items are not over stacked.
  • Replace damaged/broken pallets.


Apart from giving a poor impression about your workplace, clutter can cause a risk to safety as well.

  • Minimise clutter where possible.
  • Return tools, equipment and files to appropriate storage when not in use.
  • Ensure work areas have as much moving space as possible to minimise the need to twist.
  • Empty rubbish bins and other trash receptacles prior to them overflowing.

Every worker has a responsibility to participate in workplace housekeeping by keeping their work areas tidy, storing materials appropriately, cleaning any spills that may occur and reporting any safety hazards immediately.

Download our Safety Checklist to see if your business is up to date.

If you require advice or assistance with understanding your obligations in relation to workplace housekeeping and safety in the workplace, or should you require support regarding any HR matter, please contact the team at HR Advice Online at advice@hradviceonline.com.au or on 1300 720 004.

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Information in HR Advice Online guides and blog posts is meant purely for educational discussion of human resources issues. It contains only general information about human resources matters and due to factors, such as government legislation changes, may not be up to date at the time of reading. It is not legal advice and should not be treated as such.