Keeping a Clean and Safe Office Space
The office environment is more than simply furniture placement. The
environment of an office includes issues such as cleanliness, order, and
maintenance. Injuries in office settings often come about because the
"housekeeping" of the office has become slack, or if an excessive amount of
paper, products or other materials create a daunting environment.
Cleanliness and good housekeeping can also reduce allergic reactions to
dust/mold and prevent illness such as the flu or Norfolk virus.
Papers and materials are on the floor or piled precariously on desks and
tables. In addition to the level of stress that accompanies an untidy
office, the paper menace is a safety hazard in that it is highly flammable
(particularly if stored next to an electrical outlet) and also has the
potential of falling off shelves or file cabinets and injuring passersby.
Rest Room Sanitation
Rest Rooms should be cleaned and sanitized at least once a day. Paper should
not be permitted to litter the floor. Bath tissue, soap and paper towels
should be available in adequate supplies. If desired, air freshener sprays
or solids should be available. Never light a candle and leave it unattended
in a rest room.
Storage of toxic chemicals and cleaning supplies can be problematic
particularly if chemicals are reactive if combined. Chemicals should be
stored in separate closet or cabinet from cleaning supplies. Beware of
chemicals such as linseed oil which can spontaneously combust.
Cleaning supplies should be clearly marked and stored in spill-proof
containers. These products should also be stored above counter-level to
avoid potential danger if the office has young visitors. The phone number of
the local poison control office should be clearly posted on the door of the
Kitchen and Food
- Dirt, grime and garbage if left to accumulate can create health hazards and
spread disease. Have sufficient trash receptacles located in kitchens, staff
lounges, break rooms and other locations where food is consumed.
- Kitchens need to be clean and floors maintained. Spills on the counters or
floors need to be mopped up promptly. Injuries can be sustained from slips
and falls on wet floors.
- Kitchen counters need to be clean and free from
spills and grime.
- Refrigerators should be cleaned out at least once a week, and
stoves/microwaves need to be wiped down at least daily.
- Trash must be properly disposed on at least a daily basis to avoid
attracting insects, mice, rats and other vermin. Rotting food, even in a
refrigerator, is a health hazard.
- Staff and volunteers should be discouraged from consuming food at their
desks, or in places that are not specifically designated for food
- Store toxic chemicals and cleaning supplies in separate areas
- Establish daily, weekly and monthly cleaning procedures. For example,
bathrooms, kitchen counters, dishes, work surfaces, phones and keyboards
should be cleaned on a daily basis. Determine how often other parts of the
office should be cleaned and establish a roster of individuals responsible
- Standards of cleanliness should be put into place for each office and/or
work cubicle. Staff performance objectives should include a requirement to
maintain a clean workspace.
- Implement a paper recycling program to cut down on paper clutter and
- Identify cleanliness and safety expectations for all staff — for
example — spills, particularly liquids spilled on the floor, need to be wiped
Oliver, Barbara B.,
Managing Facility Risks: 10 Steps to Safety, Nonprofit Risk Management
Center, Washington, DC, 2004
Keeping a Clean and Safe Office Space Checklist