Storeroom Housekeeping
Good housekeeping is a necessity.

An overcrowded, unorganized storeroom may be hiding any number of safety and health risks. For example, an improperly stored broom or mop may cause someone to trip.

Keep one side of storerooms open at all times and be sure that sharp corners and protruding nails that could cause cuts or abrasions are removed.

Improperly stored chemicals can cause serious injuries, even property damage. A poorly organized storeroom may also hide supplies and equipment from you when you need them the most, which may result in duplicate purchases, wasting precious financial resources, not to mention your valuable time.

THIS IS EARTHQUAKE COUNTRY. Items improperly stored overhead can fall and cause injuries in the event of one of our famous "shakers." This increases the risk of injury to yourself or others while in your storeroom.

Always store heavier items on shelves located between knees and chest height. Put only the lightest items above shoulder height or below the level of the knees.

This will also save wear and tear on your back, certainly making your job easier and life more enjoyable in the long run.

ELECTRICAL AND WATER HEATER ROOMS ARE NOT STOREROOMS.

Rooms with electric transformers, panels and distribution hubs are not storerooms.

If they must be used for storage, then you must provide a clear access to the panels and/or machinery with a minimum of three feet (36") at all times.

Liquids must never be stored in electrical rooms. The floors in electrical rooms must be dry; clean up any spills in these areas immediately.

Remember, a water heater can be a source of ignition. NEVER STORE FLAMMABLE MATERIALS OR GAS POWERED TOOLS IN WATER HEATER OR ELECTRICAL CLOSETS.

Using Tools Safely
Tools are indispensable to any job. To insure that they work properly and safely, make cleaning and inspecting them a regular, daily habit, especially power tools. Here are some things to look for:
  • Look over electrical cords for any exposed wires and defective plugs.
  • KEEP EXTENSION CORDS NEATLY WRAPPED and stored when not in use; and remember that extension cords are not to be used for permanent wiring situations.
  • MAINTAIN GOOD HOUSEKEEPING PRACTICES. Designate a specific place for every tool to be stored when not in use.
  • FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH POWER TOOLS BEFORE YOU USE THEM. Never use a tool you are unfamiliar with. You must never perform work for which you have not been trained to use safely.
  • WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, READ THE "USERS" MANUALS. Better yet, read them before using the tool. Keep them handy for reference in the future, too.
  • PREPARE THE WORK AREA. Clear the area you will be working in of trip and slip hazards. In public areas, designate the work area with safety cones or barrier tape whenever possible, and stay mindful of others around you.

Chemical Safety
Almost everyone works with hazardous substances. Read labels on all cleaning supplies and office chemical products. Understand their inherent dangers and how to protect yourself and others.

Just because there may be no obvious immediate (acute) physical or health hazards associated with a product or substance does not make it completely harmless.

FOLLOW DIRECTIONS CAREFULLY when using chemical supplies.

NEVER MIX CHEMICAL SUPPLIES TOGETHER. Some seemingly safe chemical ingredients may become dangerous to your health if mixed together.

Many substances we commonly use may also have long-term (chronic) health hazards. If you are not sure about any aspect of a product's use or application, check with your supervisor and request the product's Material Safety Data Sheet or MSDS. STAY HEALTHY, BE SAFE.

STORE FLAMMABLE MATERIALS IN A PROPERLY VENTED, FLAMMABLE LIQUIDS CABINET AWAY FROM HEAT AND FLAME SOURCES.

Never use any substance from an unmarked container. ALL CHEMICAL CONTAINERS MUST BE PROPERLY LABELED; this includes both original manufacturer's containers and any "SECONDARY CONTAINERS" with hazardous substances. At the minimum all containers must indicate the product's name and any hazard associated with its use.

STORE CHEMICAL PRODUCTS ACCORDING TO THE INSTRUCTIONS ON THE CONTAINER LABELS AND/OR ON THE MATERIAL DATA SAFETY SHEETS (MSDS).

Ladder Safety
Ladders are one of our most common and useful tools. Their hazards are easily overlooked, so be careful. If you use ladders frequently, it's important to remember their potential hazards.

Make these rules a natural part of your ladder use:

  • USE A LADDER WHEN IT IS NEEDED. Boxes, chairs and desks are not ladders and must be considered unsafe to stand on.

  • USE THE RIGHT TYPE AND SIZE OF LADDER FOR THE JOB. There are straight ladders, "A" frame ladders, extension ladders, metal ladders, fiberglass ladders and wooden ladders. Learn the advantages of each and apply the right ladder for the job you are to perform.

  • INSPECT THE LADDER BEFORE YOU USE IT. Are all the rungs in place? Are the spreaders fully open? Are there cracks, splinters or sharp edges on the cleats, rungs or side rails? NEVER USE A DAMAGED LADDER; REPORT IT TO YOUR SUPERVISOR IMMEDIATELY.

  • USE COMMON SENSE WHEN WORKING ON LADDERS. Never lean or reach too far to either side; move the ladder first. Set up your ladder safely -- check for slippery surfaces, uneven footings and keep the surrounding area free of clutter.

  • CLIMB AND DESCEND LADDERS CAUTIOUSLY. Face the ladder and hold on with both hands. If you need tools, carry them on a tool belt or raise and lower them on a hand line. Check ladder rungs and your shoes for potentially slippery substances.

  • THE BUDDY SYSTEM. If working on a ladder in wet, slippery conditions or on uneven surfaces is essential and unavoidable, get a buddy to hold the ladder at the base to stabilize it while you climb and work from it. NEVER WORK ALONE IN THESE SITUATIONS.

Lifting Safety
Lifting, pushing and pulling objects from one place to another is a task many people commonly perform. It can be done effortlessly and safely with a little thoughtful planning. Like any tool or piece of equipment, your body will easily handle the job, if you keep it moderately fit and your mind flexible and focused.

Know your physical limits, and remember these simple guidelines.

  1. BE REALISTIC AS YOU ASSESS THE LOAD. Plan the move in your mind before you physically begin. If you think the load might be too heavy or it appears too bulky...

  2. ASK SOMEONE TO ASSIST YOU. Or, if possible, break the load up into more manageable sizes.

  3. WHENEVER POSSIBLE USE MECHANICAL ASSISTANCE. A cart or hand truck will make the job much easier. Also, it's much easier on your back to push a load forward than it is to pull a load backward.

  4. Be sure YOU are warmed up, learn some simple stretching techniques to limber your back and leg muscles.

  5. When lifting, stand close to the object with your feet about shoulder width apart.

  6. Squat down, bending at the hips and knees, keep your back straight and get up looking ahead.

  7. Grip the load, arch your lower back inward, pull yourself up slowly. When standing, keep the load close to you.

  8. Avoid twisting your torso while carrying a load. TURN YOUR WHOLE BODY IN THE DIRECTION YOU WANT TO GO WITH A LOAD. Twisting puts additional strain on the spine and muscles of the back.

  9. When you are ready to set the load down remember to squat down first, bending naturally at the hips and knees, and keep you lower back arched inward.

  10. NEVER STORE HEAVY OBJECTS HIGHER THAN YOUR SHOULDERS. That way you won't ever have to lift them higher than your shoulders. Lifting objects over one's head, even light ones, puts additional strain on the back.