SpaceTEC® Resource Blog for Aerospace Technicians

Housekeeping: It’s Not Just For The Home Anymore.


Housekeeping: Organization and tidiness in general, as of an office, shop, etc. – Collins English Dictionary

For many people, when the term “housekeeping” comes up, they usually have a vision of chasing dust bunnies around the house, but housekeeping is not just for the home.  Your workplace is your “home away from home” and housekeeping carries a much more important role for it affects not only your safety, but the safety of others and has a direct impact on the quality of work being produced.

Housekeeping is an essential task in the workplace for the aerospace technician.  Proper housekeeping ensures safety, mitigates fire hazards, increased work productivity, reduces unnecessary repairs, and helps with tool control.  Without housekeeping the workplace would eventually come to a grinding halt.  Poor housekeeping encourages trip hazards, FOD hazards, fire hazards (both by being possibly flammable itself and/or blocking access to fire fighting equipment and exits).  Oil and grease not cleaned up could ignite if exposed to a hot area of a machine or be a slip hazard if left on the floor.

Housekeeping is not something that is just done at the end of the shift.  It is an ongoing task that you do alongside your job.  The term “Clean as you go” refers to proper housekeeping while doing a job.  If you pick up trash, put away tools when not being used anymore during the job, and keep your work area trip and hazard free during your task, you are practicing “Clean as you go.”  No one wants to work beside the person who’s standing knee deep in his trash with his tools scattered all about and even encroaching into your workspace interfering with your task.

So how can you “clean as you go” in the aerospace workplace?  Ensure you throw away all trash created during your job as you produce it.  That requires having some sort of trash receptacle nearby that is designated for trash only.  Cap all open bottles/cans when you are not using them at that moment to avoid accidental spills.  Clean up all grease and oil spills as they occur; don’t leave them on the ground or hardware with the intention of “getting to it later.”  Put tools away or return to logistics if your not using it anymore for the job.  Stage equipment and supplies for your job that you will need later near, but not in, your work area in a orderly grouping out of the way of traffic and other people’s work areas.

If you are operating a machine in a shop, there are a set of housekeeping rules that apply to it as laid out by the book Technology of Machine Tools:

  • “Always stop the machine before you attempt to clean it.
  • Always keep the machine and hand tools clean.  Oily surfaces can be dangerous.  Metal chips left on the table surface may interfere with the safe clamping of a workpiece.
  • Always use a brush and not a cloth to remove any chips.  Chips stick to cloth and can cause cuts when the cloth is used later.
  • Oily surfaces should be cleaned with a cloth.
  • Do not place tools and materials on the machine table.  Use a bench near the machine.
  • Keep the floor free from oil and grease.
  • Sweep up the metal chips on the floor frequently (clean as you go!).  They become embedded in the soles of shoes and can cause dangerous slippage if a person walks on a terrazzo or concrete floor.  Use a scraper, mounted on the floor near the door, to remove these chips before leaving the shop.
  • Never place tools or materials on the floor close to a machine where they will interfere with the operator’s ability to move safely around the machine.
  • Return bar stock to the storage rack after cutting off the required length (clean as you go!).
  • Never use compressed air to remove chips from a machine.  Not only is it a dangerous practice because of flying metal chips, but small chips and dirt can become wedged between machine parts and cause undue wear.”

As you now know, housekeeping is an essential part of safety in the workplace and should be practiced at all times.  There is no need for a maid’s uniform to be a good housekeeper in the shop, just an awareness that everything has it’s place and and should be clean and ready for use the next time.



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Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 Aerospace Safety