General good housekeeping is everyone’s responsibility, whether it’s at your brokerage or the factories, offices or business premises of your clients.
It’s important to make clients aware that managing risk and safety in the workplace will help avoid injury, liability claims and business interruption. We encourage you to continue to engage with all clients to ensure they implement responsible risk management practices. The best way to keep insurance premiums affordable is to manage the risk pool and enable our clients to improve their own risk management.
The South African Occupational Health & Safety Act has a specific section for housekeeping to promote a safe, clean and healthy working environment that reduces the likelihood of accidents and unsafe practices in the workplace. We look at the main benefits and focus areas to help you advise your clients on best practices.
Good housekeeping practices have numerous positive benefits, among other:
- Clean, clutter-free and spill-free work areas
- Decreased fire hazards
- Awareness for stumbling and related hazards
- Proper waste management and control of hazardous substances
- Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health
- More effective use of space and improved employee morale
- Improved productivity and better control of what can go wrong.
Fire safety good practice
Fire is a big risk for many businesses and the following scenarios can impact on good housekeeping:
- Keep building surrounds clear of vegetation, such as dry grass, tree branches or other combustible materials to fight the risk of veld fires.
- An effective fire detection system, linked to a local fire brigade, security company or the client, enhances the protection of the premises against fire.
- Proper training of staff in fire-fighting, use of equipment and safety is an important consideration.
- Ensuring that the correct permits are in place if any flammable liquids are in use and also to ensure that full compliance exists in terms of the storage thereof.
- The implementation of a hot works permit system is often found to be lacking. Contractors perform work involving a hazardous process, e.g. angle-grinding and the protective measures required are either not followed or not known, due to a lack of an adequate system.
- Distribution boards need to be clear of any obstruction, making them accessible at all times.
- Ensuring that electrical reticulation is in good condition and that the required certificates of compliance are obtained, is very important.
How to safeguard employees
Employers have duties in terms of the OHS Act to ensure the safety of employees. Good housekeeping requires a systematic approach, training, proper communication and formalised systems, which are regularly reviewed and improved. Health and safety management systems need to be embedded in all organisations and these are coupled with understanding all the risks within the industry involved.
Ensuring safety of clients
Good housekeeping also impacts on the safety of the public, especially in the retail sector. Slip and trip incidents are numerous and can be costly, especially as litigations following such incidents are on the increase.
Damage to property
While safety of people is the first priority, poor housekeeping can also increase the risk of property loss. The lack of housekeeping often leads to increased hazard, because stock or goods that should not be near one another ends up causing major problems. An example, is keeping large quantities of flammable liquids in an operational or production environment. This adds to risk of injury, death or loss of property.
By: Adrian Chester – Commercial Casualty Underwriting