When you run a warehouse or industrial facility, cleanliness and maintenance need to be a top priority. Not only does a clean workspace promote a positive work environment, but it prevents accidents. Aside from a moral obligation to protect your employees, government agencies like OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and ANSI (American National Standard Institute) enforce warehouse safety standards. Plus, worker’s comp and insurance coverage can add up over time.
Cleanliness and organization have also been shown to increase productivity and improve inventory accuracy. It also doesn’t hurt your company’s image to have a safe and clean warehouse.
Whether you run a brewery, storage or distribution center, or a food processing or packaging plant, keeping things clean is easier said than done. Here are a few tips to make this significant and critical task more achievable.
Take Proactive Steps
Prevention and preemptive measures are a great way to keep things clean. If there isn’t a mess to begin with, there’s nothing left to clean up. Being proactive and encouraging your employees to adopt that same level of proactivity is a foundational step for preventing clutter and mess.
Some ways to be proactive include:
Employee Training- Start by breeding a culture that believes you should clean as you go, and that the job isn’t complete until the mess from doing the job is cleaned up, too. This eliminates the problem with shift workers leaving messes for the next shift and cultivates an attitude of organization.
Set Cleaning Goals- set up specific tasks for employees like sweeping, dusting, taking out the garbage, and keeping essential areas like work cells and shipping doors clean and clutter-free. If employees know which small cleaning goals you expect from them, it’s more likely that they’ll get done.
Keep Cleaning Supplies Available- If trash bags, brooms, rags, and products aren’t accessible, the likelihood of people cleaning decreases. Don’t make your employees walk across the warehouse for cleaning supplies. Always keep them out and visible. It also serves as an excellent visual cue and reminder to hit the cleaning goals.
Setting new standards for your employees won’t be an overnight process. But, if you take the time to implement some preemptive and continual cleaning patterns, it will pay off in the long run.
Use High-Grade Vacuums
Regular vacuums and sweeping aren’t going to cut it. Often, warehouses have a variety of substances that need to be vacuumed up, including dry, wet, and hazardous material. Standard grade vacuums can’t safely clean all of that. Dust build-up is a primary concern, too. Not only can dust cause serious lung-related illnesses in up to 12% of warehouse workers, but it’s a fire and explosion hazard, also. That’s why when it comes to vacuums and keeping your warehouse clean, you have to go with industrial vacuum cleaners.
Most industrial vacuums are equipped to handle both wet and dry materials. Sometimes, it’s worth looking into different models of vacuums. If you work in a warehouse or facility with flammable and combustible substances, you might consider pneumatic vacuums. These types of vacuums don’t use electricity and are, instead, powered by compressed air. The lack of electricity makes the risk of explosion significantly less. Another industrial vacuum worth considering is the HEPA industrial vacuum.
HEPA stands for high-efficiency particulate air, so these vacuums and their filters trap incredibly small particles. To be certified, they must filter particles that are as small as .3 microns to 99.97% efficiency. Traditional filters are only required to filter particles as small as 10 microns. So, HEPA industrial vacuums work to keep the air super clean.
Make Drainage Improvements
Most warehouses and industrial facilities have a drainage system of some kind. Sometimes drains are outside the building to handle rain. Other times, they’re inside the facility to handle washing or cleaning. And sometimes, they’re there to handle the just-in-case scenario of a chemical or liquid spill. Either way, maintaining your drainage system is important.
Gunk can build up, metals can erode, and mold can grow. Also, heavy machinery can break the drainage grates causing safety concerns. You should make drainage cleaning part of your daily cleaning goals, especially if there’s a high risk of contamination, bacteria growth, or chemical exposure.
Additionally, to make cleaning easier, it could be time for an upgrade. A lot of facilities are moving towards the industrial trench drain versus the standard grate drains. People are making the switch because grate drains are heavy and difficult to clean, and often corrode over time. Trench drains, on the other hand, are cylindrical, generally made of stainless steel, and there’s no grate to remove. Cleaning trench drains just requires running a brush through the body of the drain. So, no heavy grate to lift beforehand, plus the stainless steel makes it durable.
Work on Inventory Management
Inventory takes up a lot of space, and if it hasn’t been touched in a while, it’s a haven for dust collection. Keep up with your inventory to make sure that you’re effectively managing products. Don’t order things you don’t need, and if there’s anything that you can get rid of, do it. There’s no reason to keep unneeded inventory around. It just clutters the environment.
If you have untouched stock that you can’t get rid of, make sure to dust it. Additionally, look at your inventory layout. Ensure that your most-used items are easily accessed and don’t require moving tons of other boxes or crates to access them.
Use the Proper Cleaning Chemicals
First, for your employees to be able to clean as they go, they’ll need cleaning chemicals and materials. You should always make sure to have basic cleaning supplies stocked. You can’t expect your employees to clean their workspace if you’ve only provided rags and water. However, choosing the right chemicals can be difficult.
The proper chemicals depend entirely on your operation and goals. For example, if you need to remove scale, rust, and oxides, you’ll want to go with acidic cleaners to mop the floor. However, be aware that acidic cleaners can damage some floor types.
If you deal with food or beverages, you might consider dry ice blasting to clean your industrial equipment. But, if you aren’t in the food or beverage space, this is probably not a necessary measure.
Ultimately, do your research and make sure that the chemicals you use are safe and effective. Using subpar products can make cleaning feel like an endless, pointless task.
Warehouse and Industrial Facility Cleaning
Keep your employees safe and your facility looking great. If you take some proactive measures, make improvements when necessary, and use the right equipment, keeping your warehouse clean is a much more manageable task. When you make cleanliness a priority, you’re improving morale, increasing safety, decreasing the costs associated with accidents, and avoiding fines.
These tips are just a few of the ways you can keep your facility clean. Get creative, do some research, and find solutions that work for your facility.