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Health and Safety Directorate


Why is housekeeping important?

Housekeeping is not just about being “clean”. Effective housekeeping can help you easily eliminate some workplace hazards, which in turn helps in preventing accidents. It can reduce hazards such as slips/trips, manual handling, spills and can positively affect health (e.g. through reduced levels of dust). 

A cleaner and organised workspace can also help improve worker morale, thus increasing productivity due to the general improvement in the workplace ambience. Ensuring the general work area is tidy by preventing build-up of waste materials is also part of accident and fire prevention strategies.

Good housekeeping reflects the commitment you have to your area. Take pride and encourage your team to work on creating a safer work environment and make better use of space.

What should you aim to do?

  • Aim to keep the general area clean and tidy
  • Create a culture where desks/surfaces are kept clean, tidy and regularly organised.
  • Ensure that aisles, passageways and traffic routes are free from obstructions & hazards.

Japanese 5S system

Only doing a yearly “spring clean” can be unpleasant, waste time and be costly. Make your yearly clear-out easier by making housekeeping and waste disposal part of your regular routine, rather than something tackled only on an annual basis. You can try using the 5S system, which is a five step process that you can apply to a wide range of aspects at work, to improve efficiency.

  • Sort: Think about what materials you have in your area and determine whether you need it or not. Dispose of what you deem unnecessary.
  • Set in Order: Organise the materials you have decided to keep. Think about the best way to store them, and put systems in place that can help you become more organised and improve efficiency.
  • Shine: Tidy your area. Give it a deep clean, and then make a daily routine of keeping areas clear, and tidying up after yourself. For example, you could look to de-clutter your desk every week.
  • Standardise: To ensure all your hard work carried out in the previous steps is not erased, create a system to make the above activities a routine. For example, organise your area with labels, delegate work, and create checklists.
  • Sustain: Keep up the above. Make it part of your general culture at work/in your area. Ensure everyone gets involved and regularly switch up your routine to keep everyone engaged.

Useful tips

  • Think about how you store materials, where you store them, and whether you need them. If you haven’t used it in years, dispose of it or store it elsewhere.
  • When purchasing storage containers, think about your local area. Do you often have issues with water ingress? Purchase a plastic container to protect your belongings.
  • Think about how you will access these materials – do you have a kick stool?
  • Avoid overloading your shelves, too often they can collapse. These can also become a fire hazard. Can you save these as an electronic version instead?
  • Use labels and provide designated storage areas for materials e.g. tools or bags. This can help with organisation as well as encourage tidiness within your area.

For Advice and Assistance at QMUL, contact the H&S Manager / Advisor for your Faculty / PS or the subject lead at

All H&S staff can be contacted via the help desk at

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