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How basic good housekeeping can help your business avoid liability claims and business interruption

Article provided by Santam

General good housekeeping is everyone’s responsibility, whether it’s at your factory, office or business premises.

It’s important that as a client you are aware that managing risk and safety in the workplace will help avoid injury, liability claims and business interruption. We’ve encouraged our brokers to continue to engage with clients to ensure they implement responsible risk management practices. In the same vein we encourage you to liaise with your brokers should you have any specific queries in this regard.

The South African Occupational Health & Safety Act has a specific section for housekeeping to promote a safe, clean and healthy working environment that reduces the likelihood of accidents and unsafe practices in the workplace. We look at the main benefits and focus areas to advise you on best practices.

Good housekeeping practices have numerous positive benefits, among other:

  • Clean, clutter-free and spill-free work areas
  • Decreased fire hazards
  • Awareness for stumbling and related hazards
  • Proper waste management and control of hazardous substances
  • Better hygienic conditions leading to improved health
  • More effective use of space and improved employee morale
  • Improved productivity and better control of what can go wrong.

Fire safety good practice

Fire is a big risk for many businesses and the following scenarios can impact on good housekeeping:

  • Keep building surrounds clear of vegetation, such as dry grass, tree branches or other combustible materials to fight the risk of veld fires.
  • An effective fire detection system, linked to a local fire brigade, security company or you as owner, enhances the protection of the premises against fire.
  • Proper training of staff in fire-fighting, use of equipment and safety is an important consideration.
  • Ensuring that the correct permits are in place if any flammable liquids are in use and also to ensure that full compliance exists in terms of the storage thereof.
  • The implementation of a hot works permit system is often found to be lacking. Contractors perform work involving a hazardous process, e.g. angle-grinding and the protective measures required are either not followed or not known, due to a lack of an adequate system.
  • Distribution boards need to be clear of any obstruction, making them accessible at all times.
  • Ensuring that electrical reticulation is in good condition and that the required certificates of compliance are obtained, is very important.

How to safeguard employees

As an employer you have duties in terms of the OHS Act to ensure the safety of employees. Good housekeeping requires a systematic approach, training, proper communication and formalised systems, which are regularly reviewed and improved. Health and safety management systems need to be embedded in all organisations and these are coupled with understanding all the risks within the industry involved.

Ensuring safety of clients

Good housekeeping also impacts on the safety of the public, especially in the retail sector. Slip and trip incidents are numerous and can be costly, especially as litigations following such incidents are on the increase.

Damage to property

While safety of people is the first priority, poor housekeeping can also increase the risk of property loss. The lack of housekeeping often leads to increased hazard, because stock or goods that should not be near one another ends up causing major problems. An example, is keeping large quantities of flammable liquids in an operational or production environment. This adds to risk of injury, death or loss of property.

If you would like more information on Santam’s business liability insurance, speak to your broker or contact us. For more advice tailored to businesses, visit our blog.

Santam is a proud Partner of the NSBC.