Housekeeping Training Guide

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Labor Occupational Health Program

Summary Statement

Training on the importance of housekeeping, hazards that result from poor housekeeping and how to do it properly - includes discussion questions and a sign-off form. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

These tailgate/toolbox talks were developed for use under California OSHA regulations. The complete set is available from the Labor Occupational Health Program at UC Berkeley. For ordering information, visit the website ( The American Conference of Government Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) has adapted these talks to apply to federal OSHA regulations. To contact ACGIH, visit its web site (

    Before you begin the meeting...

  • Does this topic relate to the work the crew is doing? If not, choose another topic.
  • Did you read this Training Guide and fill in the blanks where thePencil Icon appears? (To find the information you need, look over the Safety Walkaround Checklist for this topic.)

Begin: Today we’ll talk about housekeeping. Some people think it’s a waste of time. But if you spend five minutes picking up junk and litter, you might keep someone from slipping or tripping. You could prevent an injury that keeps them off work for weeks or even months. Five minutes to save months off work—it’s a good investment. And next time, it could be you who gets hurt.

Housekeeping is everyone’s job—every trade, every worker, every supervisor. And it’s a job you should do every day—not just once a week or when a project is over. The first rule is to do your work neatly in the first place, and clean up after yourself. Good housekeeping does more than prevent injuries—it can save you time, and it can keep your tools from being lost, damaged, or destroyed.

You or a crew member may want to add a personal story about the hazards of poor housekeeping.

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Next, discuss with the crew any housekeeping problems you have found at this particular job site:




After each question, give the crew time to suggest possible answers. Use the information following each question to add points that no one mentions.

1. What can you do to prevent slips, trips, and falls?

  • If you see a mess, take care of it. Don’t wait for someone else to clean it up. Pick up anything you see lying around, especially if it could trip someone or fall on them.
  • If you find someone’s tools or equipment around, move them out of the way. Put them somewhere safe, but visible.
  • Immediately clear scrap and debris from walkways, passageways, stairs, scaffolds, and around floor openings.
  • Make sure the ground is level and well-graded within six feet of buildings under construction.
  • Keep storage areas and walkways free of holes, ruts, and obstructions.
  • Clean up spills of grease, oil, or other liquids at once. If it’s not possible, cover them with sand or some other absorbent material until they can be cleaned up. Someone might slip.
  • Coil up extension cords, lines, welding leads, hoses, etc. when not in use.
  • Make sure there’s adequate lighting. If a light is out, report it. Replace it immediately if you can.

2. Besides slips, trips, and falls, what other kinds of injuries can good housekeeping prevent?

Nails and fastener injuries

  • If nails are protruding from surfaces, remove them or at least bend them down.
  • Remove nails or fasteners when opening crates, cartons, kegs, or when stripping small forms.
  • Remove or bend down nails before discarding scrap material.
Fires and burns
  • Immediately remove combustible debris and materials from buildings and structures. Get them off the site promptly.
  • Keep containers of flammable liquids tightly closed. Store flammables in approved cabinets. Dispose of them in separate waste containers, not with other trash.
Head and body injuries
  • Don’t throw materials, waste, or tools from buildings or structures to an area where workers may be located.
  • Where the potential for injury exists, remove or flag protruding objects.
  • Make sure there are protective caps on exposed rebar.

3. When you stack material, how high can the stack be?

  • No higher than 7 feet for bricks, 16 feet for manually stacked lumber, and 20 feet for mechanically stacked lumber.
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Explain any other stacking height limits on this site:________


4. What are some other rules to keep in mind when you stack material?

  • Plan ahead. Before you stack any material, figure out how the stack should be arranged. That makes it easier when the time comes to break it down.
  • Stack everything neatly.
  • Make sure there’s clearance around the stack, so workers or equipment will have enough room when they break it down.
  • Make sure the stack is on a firm, stable surface that can hold the weight.
  • Make sure piled or stacked material is stable so it won’t fall, slip, or collapse.
  • Reinforce the stack to stabilize it.

5. How can you protect yourself when handling scrap material?

  • Follow all the stacking rules we just discussed.
  • Wear heavy gloves and safety shoes when you handle scrap material.
  • Before you pile up material for disposal, remove or bend down any nails or fasteners.
6. Good housekeeping includes good sanitation. What sanitary facilities are we required to have on the site?
  • Enough clean, private toilets with toilet paper
  • Washing areas with soap and water
  • Enough pure drinking water (from fountains or single-use cups).
  • Water that isn't drinkable must be labeled.
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Point out sanitary facilities on this site (if not obvious):_____



Explain: Most of the safety measures we’ve talked about are required by Cal/OSHA. We have to take these precautions—it’s the law. I have a Checklist of the Cal/OSHA regulations on housekeeping. If you’d like to know more, see me after the meeting.


(Only if applicable.) Besides the Cal/OSHA regulations, we have some additional company rules about housekeeping.

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Discuss company rules. Be sure to include specific instructions on where to stack or store materials, proper disposal and cleanup methods, etc.:




Ask: Do you have any other concerns about housekeeping? Do you see any problems on our job? (Let the steward answer first, if there is one.)

What about other jobs you’ve worked on? Have you had any experience with housekeeping that might help us work safer on this job?

Sign Off Form

Date Prepared:_________________________ By:_______________________
Project Name/No.______________________ Location:__________________
Printed Name