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A Practical
Program for Industry*
Chief Engineer, Bureau of Industrial Hygiene, Michigan Department of
Health, Lansing, Mich.

IN spite of diligent efforts to find a scope of housekeeping has expanded

good definition of the word " house- until now many understand it to in-
keeping," I have been unsuccessful. I clude supervision of sanitary facilities,
have also discussed this subject with, locker rooms, and the attendant prob-
many people, and most of them gave lems of proper water supplies and
different interpretations. Possibly there sewage disposal systems, in addition to
is no exact definition of the word, and, the usual cleaning and sweeping
therefore, it may not be presumptuous operations.
on my part to say what housekeeping
means to me when it is related to an ELEMENTS OF A GOOD PROGRAM
industrial establishment. In my opinion, good housekeeping
Industrial housekeeping means more comprises the following elements
than the slogan " a place for every- (these are not necessarily in order of
thing and everything in its place "; it importance):
must mean more than painting aisle- 1. Men and machines should be so placed
ways and sweeping the aisles. To me, as to provide the easiest and most efficient
it is that indefinable reaction when flow of production.
making -an inspection, that here is a 2. Operations should be so located that the
health hazards, possibly associated with one
plant, well organized, well kept, and on will not imperil workers on another task.
its toes in plant hygiene. For a plant 3. Structural and operational arrangements
to create this reaction on a trained ob- should be made to permit easy traffic of men
server involves a great deal of planned and materials within the plant.
effort and some expenditure by manage- 4. Adequate space should be allotted for
the storage of movable equipment and tools
ment, and this cannot be accomplished not in current use.
either casually or in a day or two. 5. A safe water supply and proper sewerage
Housekeeping is not such a simple and sewage disposal facilities must be
matter as it may seem, and so it may provided.
not be amiss at this point to review very 6. Definite janitor service should be fur-
nished for the regular cleaning of sanitary
briefly some of the fundamental con- facilities, locker and eating rooms, windows,
siderations underlying good plant lighting fixtures, and other parts of the
housekeeping. interior of the plant.
In recent years, the meaning and 7. Proper maintenance of all equipment
must be enforced; this will become a rela-
* Presented before the Industrial Hygiene Section tively easy matter if the other items are
of the American Public Health Association at the carried out in a conscientious manner.
Seventy-first Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Mo.,
October 29, 1942. I shall not bore you with the func-
tional details involved in the foregoing concurrent experiences due, perhaps, to
seven elements of good housekeeping. a combination of emphasis on produc-
Detailed information has been furnished tion, overcrowding of manufacturing
by several capable authors and is facilities, inexperienced labor, and lack
readily available. However, I shall tell of proper supervision.
you some of the reasons why good Whatever the reasons for this state
housekeeping is so essential to all plants. of affairs may be, the results speak for
themselves and they are not so good.
REASONS FOR PROGRAM I suggest that a considerable improve-
A plant may or may not handle ma- ment may be attained by initiating and
terial hazardous to health. That is maintaining a thoroughgoing plan of
beside the point, but every plant better housekeeping in all plants, par-
should have a health and a safety pro- ticularly in the smaller plants. In the
gram. They are basic to all plants, latter, good housekeeping may fre-
and I do not know of anyone who quently be the only readily available
would not benefit by having them. means of controlling occupational
It is my contention, however, that hazards, and for this reason it is doubly
you cannot have either a good health important.
program or a good safety program with- The industrial hygienist takes the
out the foundation of good house- first step in establishing the kind of
keeping. What would be the use of housekeeping program I have in mind.
passing workers through a screen of He must make a thorough sale to plant
physical examinations, assigning them mnanagement as otherwise his effort will
to suitable tasks, and then exposing merely produce sporadic attempts and
them, for instance, to heavy dust con- temporary effects. To be successful,
centrations often due to poor house- the sale must result in a program that
keeping, or to the potential danger of is well conceived and practical. It will
infection because of lack of proper then be carried out conscientiously as
sanitation? What would be the use of an everyday routine.
having a fine safety program on paper No matter how small the plant, a
if you exposed workers to accidents good housekeeping program will cost
because of improper stacking of ma- some money, both for fixtures and for
terials, bad floor conditions, or poor labor. Therefore, the authority for
equipment maintenance? carrying out the program must be dele-
To my mind, the logic of having gated by management to some one
good housekeeping as a basis for any person. It is my belief, in the light of
health maintenance or accident preven- past experience, that authority cannot
tion program is quite plain. I do not be successfully delegated to a com-
believe that it is necessary for me to mittee because of the frequent inability
convince you on this point. Rather do to get unanimous opinions, procrastina-
I believe that it might be well to study tion on details, and general inertia. We
the situation and apply remedies where all know how committees proceed un-
needed. less one man takes upon himself the
We know that the annual loss of in- burden of getting prompt action. And
dustrial man-hours due to occupational so, why not appoint one man for the
mishaps is increasing, and we know from job, in the first place?
observation that at present housekeep- In the larger plants which employ a
ing often is neglected, especiallv in the full-time safety director or engineer, he
smaller plants. Probably there is a is, of course, the indicated person*, to
definite connection between these two assume responsibility for proper house-
keeping, but in the smaller plants, not THE PROGRAM
possessing the services of such a man, Once the proper man is selected, he
the selection will depend on certain will, in company with the superin-
considerations. tendent, make a survey of the plant
I do not believe that the plant and find the location of bottlenecks
superintendent is the man for the job. caused, for instance, by an outdated
As a rule, his efforts are concentrated arrangement of machines or by a badly
on production. In addition to this timed system of supply and removal of
full-time job, he has numerous other materials. With the superintendent he
responsibilities, all connected with will decide on the necessary steps to
manufacture and labor. Neither is one establish a smooth production flow. He
of the foremen the man for it. Gen- will segregate or isolate operations
erally speaking, their world is restricted which may inconvenience, annoy, or
to just a portion of the plant, and, endanger neighboring operations. He
therefore, they may lack the proper will observe movement of men and ma-
perspective, and their prestige with the terials throughout the plant and, in
workers in other departments may not cooperation with the various depart-
be such as to permit them to enforce ments, decide on the direction of
regulations. traffic. To that end, he may decide on
It seems to me that the employment the relocation of doors, removal of ob-
manager may fill the bill in most cases. structions, demarcation of old and new
Generally he has the responsibility for aisleways, and structural alterations.
hiring personnel, exercises related func- He will also observe the disposal of
tions such as group insurance, work- little used equipment and tools and will
men's compensation, and general wel- devise a space where they can be stored
fare activities. He is well known to all systematically and not become junk, if
employees, is respected because, in of subsequent real value to the com-
many instances, he represents manage- pany. He will call for the maintenance
ment to them. Moreover, his duties man and with him make a thorough
place him in close contact with com- trip of the plant and inspect machines,
pany officials and his requests receive protective equipment and other devices,
attention and consideration. and demand that they be put in good
If the plant is too small to have an condition immediately,- if necessary,
employment manager, then the respon- and thereafter be reinspected and
sibility for plant housekeeping could rechecked at regular intervals.
very well devolve on one of the com- Having accomplished the foregoing
pany officials, preferably the treasurer and acquainted himself with the inner
since he is the man who handles the workings of his plant, the selectee will
purse strings. It will also be an ad- consult his state or local health depart-
vantage to have such an official take an ment on matters pertaining to water
active interest in the workers' environ- supplies and sewage disposal, particu-
ment and its attendant difficulties and larly if the plant is not connected with
thereby contribute substantially to a municipal systems. He will also
better understanding between labor and ascertain from his state health depart-
management. ment or labor department what regu-
Individual conditions will govern the lations are in force relative to sanitary
selection of the man for taking charge and kindred facilities, and if women are
of a plant housekeeping program but employed in the plant, what special
its importance compels great care in regulations exist for their benefit.
making that selection. He will make up a list of daily,
weekly, monthly, and quarterly chores ment have often been misunderstood
that will have to be performed by the and therefore are opposed by labor. It
janitor, such as cleaning of the various may be reasonably expected, therefore,
sanitary facilities, windows, light fix- that if before a housekeeping program
tures, etc. He will go over the list in is put into effect, time is taken to ex-
detail with the janitor and personally plain the program to the workers, the
investigate and supervise the various results might be beneficial to all con-
items on the list. This list may then cerned. While this discussion stresses
well be called the janitor's " standing the importance of good plant house-
orders," and will have to be carried out keeping as a foundation for all other
faithfully and consistently. health conservation and safety pro-
Finally, the housekeeping supervisor grams, the conclusion should not be
will have to draft a schedule for him- drawn that these programs are not
self for the regular inspection of the advocated. On the contrary, they
plant in order to make certain that should be carried on with unabated
there is no slackening in service and vigor, but they will be immeasurably
that the plant is maintained in apple- strengthened by a good housekeeping
pie order. program.
All this may sound difficult and To summarize the proposed program:
tedious but all worth while objectives 1. Management appoints a supervisor,
involve work and expenditure, and plant preferably the employment manager, to set
housekeeping is no exception. up and carry out a housekeeping program.
Before closing, I should like to say 2. Management gives the supervisor au-
thority to incur expense for fixtures and
a few words concerning cooperation of additional labor.
the workers. Experience has shown 3. Supervisor consults department heads
that without the sincere collaboration and labor to improve production flow, plant
of labor, management may not have an traffic, and storage of unused equipment.
easy time with the maintenance of good 4. Supervisor ascertains state and local
regulations concerning sanitation.
housekeeping in a plant. Industry as 5. Supervisor works out a plan with the
a whole has been convinced for a long maintenance man to keep equipment in good
time that it is good economics to keep condition.
workers at their tasks and reduce 6. Supervisor provides janitor with itemized
orders for regular cleaning of the plant
absenteeism, from whatever cause, to interior.
a vanishing point. However, some of 7. Supervisor establishes a routine for the
the innovations instituted by manage- periodic personal inspection of the plant.