Answer: Refuse and food waste, what we call putrescible waste, was left on the floor and hanging in a plastic trash bag.
OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.141(a)(3)(i) states that “All places of employment shall be kept clean to the extent that the nature of the work allows.” Similarly, OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1926.141(a)(4)(i) states that “Any receptacle used for putrescible solid or liquid waste or refuse shall be so constructed that it does not leak and may be thoroughly cleaned and maintained in a sanitary condition. Such a receptacle shall be equipped with a solid tight-fitting cover, unless it can be maintained in a sanitary condition without a cover.”
OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.141(a)(4)(ii) states that “All sweepings, solid or liquid wastes, refuse, and garbage shall be removed in such a manner as to avoid creating a menace to health and as often as necessary or appropriate to maintain the place of employment in a sanitary condition.”
OSHA regulation 29 CFR 1910.141(a)(5) states that “Every enclosed workplace shall be so constructed, equipped, and maintained, so far as reasonably practicable, as to prevent the entrance or harborage of rodents, insects, and other vermin. A continuing and effective extermination program shall be instituted where their presence is detected.”
The Safety Hazards: Allowing refuse and food waste to accumulate on the floor or just placing it in a plastic bag which could leak creates slip, trip and fall hazards and it is an invitation to ants, flies, roaches, mice, rats and other disease carrying insects to enter, reside and reproduce in the workplace.
Consequences: Failure to maintain a sanitary workplace, in particular sanitary break rooms, where employees consume food and drink create serious safety and health hazards which can lead to sprains, contusions, cuts and the spread of infectious diseases.
Corrective Action: Establish and post written housekeeping rules for employees to follow. Have leak-proof plastic or metal trash containers available wherever food or drinks are consumed. Make sure that every container used to hold food waste or surgery liquid waste (soft drink cans or bottles) has a tight fitting cover. Empty the trash as needed and at least once every day. Wash the trash/waste receptacle (inside and outside) every three months. Never allow food waste or refuse to overflow the trash can and spill out onto floors. Keep countertops, sinks, tables, and chairs and refrigerators clean. Regularly check the refrigerator for un-eaten food that is four or more days old and throw it out. Do not allow broken appliances, or furniture to be used. Keep floors clean and dry at all times. Make sure that you inspect for vermin (insects and rodents) at least monthly. Use safe insecticides and traps if necessary.
Conclusion: It’s much safer (and less costly over time) to keep break rooms and eating areas clean and sanitary. Your employees will also greatly appreciate it (and you won’t be cited by OSHA!)
If you have safety and health issues occurring within your business, contact USF SafetyFlorida toll-free at 1-866-273-1105 or visit www.usfsafetyflorida.com for assistance. We can help small businesses identify workplace hazards and develop and implement effective safety and health program.