Aggregates Manager Pull-out Guide: Keep a Clean House
Housekeeping Heightens Safety
It seems like such a little thing: keeping a clean house. But failure to do a minimum of housekeeping leads to some of the most common citations from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). More importantly, it can cause injuries — or even death — from slips, trips, and falls.
The MSHA regulation for housekeeping (30 CFR 56/57.20003) states that the following applies to all mining operations:
(a) Workplaces, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly.
(b) The floor of every workplace shall be maintained in a clean and, so far as possible, dry condition. Where wet processes are used, drainage shall be maintained, and false floors, platforms, mats, or other dry standing places shall be provided where practicable.
(c) Every floor, working place, and passageway shall be kept free from protruding nails, splinters, holes, or loose boards, as practicable.
According to Zach Knoop, safety director for Knife River Corp., housekeeping was the 15th most cited standard in surface sand and gravel operations (408 violations) — and the 6th most cited standard in surface stone operations (557 violations) — in 2011.
“As you can see, it is a focal area for inspectors,” he says.
Knoop says there are a number of situations that can lead to a citation being written for housekeeping. “Within Knife River, we usually see them written for material buildup on catwalks,” he says. “We don’t always agree with the citations, but that is where we typically see them.”
Why is material buildup a problem? It can cause unsteady footing that can lead to the aforementioned slips, trips, and falls, Knoop says.
Mark Rock, vice president of risk management for CalPortland Co. agrees. Employees should be educated that it is necessary to pick up a broom or shovel and clean up a mess that might be on hand — and the lesson sticks better when they know why. “Let them know, as an industry, how many folks have been injured because of a mess like that,” he says.
“It may just look like a pile of material, but it is a heck of a lot more,” he continues. “That pile of material can indicate there is a belt slipping, or a maintenance problem with a piece of equipment. It can indicate contamination problems. It’s really helpful to teach employees to take care of the little things — and also look beyond them to the cause.”
Joseph Casper, vice president of safety services for the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA), notes that the housekeeping standard for MSHA certainly may sound like a minor thing to follow, but it can set the foundation for meeting other safety standards. “If you do well in your housekeeping, you will do well in compliance with a lot of other standards,” he says.
Keep a Clean House
1. Frequently cited
MSHA has a standard that focuses directly on housekeeping. In a nutshell, its directives outline the need to keep operations clean, orderly, and dry (so far as possible) — with safe access that is free of spilled material, refuse, protrusions, apparatus, or holes — to prevent slips, trips, and falls. Still, housekeeping is the 15th most cited standard in surface sand and gravel, and it ranks 6th most cited in surface stone.
2. Safety perspective
Poor housekeeping practices — allowing loose material or lubricants/oils to accumulate on walkways and access points — can easily lead to slip and fall injuries. But it’s beneficial to educate employees about looking beyond the mess to the maintenance issues that might be the cause. A pile of material might indicate there is a belt slipping. Oil or lubricants could mark a mechanical problem.
3. Disproportionate importance
Housekeeping for aggregate operations is disproportionately important to the way its implications might be perceived amongst employees. It may not seem as though the practice (or lack thereof) should carry serious connotations, especially when guarding seems to bear greater emphasis. But not only does a clean operation present fewer hazards, it also tends to provide a basis of compliance for other standards.