Metal fabrication: Improving safety through good housekeeping

Guidance for employers on how to use housekeeping to eliminate or reduce workplace health and safety risks in the metal fabrication industry.


Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004, an employer must, so far as is reasonably practicable, provide and maintain for employees a working environment that is safe and without risks to health.

Employers must provide, so far as is reasonably practicable, adequate facilities for the welfare of employees at the workplace and provide the necessary information, instruction, training or supervision to enable them to do their work in a way that is safe and without risks to health.

Where a risk cannot be eliminated, it must be reduced so far as is reasonably practicable.


Housekeeping refers to routine cleaning and organizing to ensure a safe, clean and tidy workplace inside and outside. Employers should perform regular housekeeping and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of employees.

Effective housekeeping can eliminate or reduce many workplace hazards and help get work done safely and properly.

Work areas

Ensure work areas and walkways are free from:

  • leads
  • cables
  • protruding items
  • slippery surfaces
  • uneven surfaces

These slip and trip hazards can result in falls.

Figure 1: Cables suspended above the floor do not present a trip hazard.
Figure 2: Pathways are clear from trip and slip hazards. Materials are stored in their areas correctly.

Regularly remove waste materials. Packaging, offcuts, swarf and splatter should be regularly removed from workstations to prevent a build-up.

Clean spills when they occur to prevent slip hazards resulting in falls.

Loading and unloading areas

Ensure the designated loading and unloading areas are clearly marked and kept free from obstructions.

Organise deliveries to prevent excessive stockpiling of a product if there is not enough storage space.

Figure 3: Line markings clearly indicate loading and unloading zones.

Storage areas

Return materials, machinery and tools to the clearly marked, designated storage area after use.

Figure 4: Storage area is maintained in a clean and orderly manner.

Regularly inspect and review storage areas to ensure materials, machinery or tools are stored correctly in an organised manner.

Figure 5: Chemicals are stored in a neat and safe manner.


Ensure the designated pathways are clearly marked and kept clear of obstacles, for example materials and leads.

Figure 6: Pathways are clear from trip hazards such as overflowing materials.

The pathways will need to be wide enough for materials, machinery and/or equipment to pass through the workshop.

Figure 7: There is adequate room to allow cranes to move materials through the workshop.

Keep entry and exit points in the workplace free from obstacles or obstructions that could prevent employees exiting the workplace safely in an emergency.

Figure 8: Signs on gates direct people entering the site to the correct driveway.

Driveways and parking areas

Ensure materials do not obstruct the designated and clearly marked driveway and parking areas.

Driveways will need to be large enough to allow vehicles to move into the loading and unloading area safely.

Figure 9: Cones are used to prevent drivers from entering through the exit drive.

Waste removal

Regularly remove debris and waste from the workshop. The higher the production rate, the greater the need for waste removal.

Ensure the number of waste bins is in proportion to the amount of waste produced. Consider how these bins will be emptied and ensure they won’t present a manual handling hazard to employees.

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