Having clean and orderly workplaces in an industrial setting like a warehouse serves a purpose beyond meeting health and safety standards. Emma Corder, MD of Industroclean, says the downside to not meeting basic cleanliness standards have far-reaching consequences.
“There are two important factors to take into account when it comes to warehouse maintenance,” she says. “The first aspect is investment. If you have laid out capital and bought your own premises, you’d want to protect your asset. By implementing proper maintenance processes and keeping the warehouse clean, you will protect your capital layout.
“Companies are also protecting themselves against other forms of loss if their reputation is tainted because negligence led to a workplace injury or fatality. That could easily lead to reputational harm, lost business and productivity, as well as creditworthiness with insurers. And without liability cover, a company’s operations could literally come to a grinding halt.”
Workplace safety is a key area of focus for labour and industrial inspectors tasked with monitoring compliance. Industrial firms – from manufacturers to logistics providers – come under close scrutiny because of their work environments have heightened threats of injury.
Corder suggests a rigorous cleaning schedule to prevent the build-up of grit, grime, and dirt.
When applying this approach to a warehouse floor, for example, always start with clearing out loose debris with a floor sweeper. Follow this up with a scrubber dryer that will give a deep clean to remove hard-to-lift dirt and grime. These machines simultaneously dry the floor, thereby reducing the possibility of slips on a wet floor.
When it comes to the maintenance and cleaning of floors, safety is always a big concern in every workplace environment. Loading zones are usually a heavy traffic area.
“Here, a clean environment keeps everyone safe. The build-up of dust can affect your machinery, which in turn, could damage the floor. Scuffmarks are another common issue on warehouse floors, but this can be maintained with regular cleaning.
“It is important to remember that flooring is a costly investment. Some industries prefer epoxy coating over concrete floors but if this is neglected, you may have to redo it in five years.”
Corder recommends investing in suitable sweeping, scrubbing and vacuuming systems, if cleaning is done by an in-house team.
“The most important step in the cleaning process is first sweeping. This should be done 80% of the time, while wet cleaning, which includes scrubbing should constitute 20% of cleaning time. It is also important to curate the right chemicals, as this not only affects whether the cleaning will be effective but may also have an effect on the wellbeing of your staff, if the wrong product is used.”
According to Lee O’Reilly, Industroclean’s SHEQ manager, there are many risks when not having proper maintenance measures in place and advises warehouse managers to conduct regular safety audits of their workplaces.
“The risks are plenty,” she explains. “You may not be able to obtain liability insurance from an insurance company. There is an increased risk of fire in a cluttered environment. Make an effort to separate items that are in use from those that could be moved to a storage section to prevent huge items lying around that could end up posing a safety and fire risk. Your employees are more vulnerable to injury due to hazards such as falling objects or slippery and dirty floors.”
Simple cleaning schedules will go a long way to ensuring that warehouse spaces are kept clean and free of grime and dust. Naturally, an organised and clean work environment promotes productivity and prevents loss of tools and stock.
Corder says the simplest way to ensure that cleaning is done regularly and to the standard required is to consult with a company that has the expertise to advise on these tasks.
“We have many years of experience within a multitude of different industries so we have a keen understanding of what is required and where the pitfalls are. It is advisable to focus on procurement of the right equipment from a compliant supplier,” Corder concludes.