Benefits of Separating Trash and Recyclables

garbage cansWhat’s in your trash can? The answer to that question can affect not only your business’s profitability but also its reputation.

Today, most communities have some type of residential recycling program. Many towns and cities also work with businesses to recycle production waste, used packaging materials, and other environmentally friendly post-production materials.

In the US, an estimated 1.51 lbs of materials are recycled per person per day, according to a 2013 study by the Pew Research Center. In addition, people and businesses are doing a better job of producing less trash in the first place. The same study found that per capita waste generation fell from 4.7 lbs per day per person to 4.4 pounds per day, resulting in a total annual reduction in municipal solid waste (the stuff that goes to the dump) by about 3 million tons.

Recycling and Business

Consumers create a lot of trash. But so do businesses. Things like byproducts, leftover packaging materials, and other post-production materials can quickly add up.

But an increasing number of businesses are discovering that participating with local recycling programs or launching their own recycling initiatives can not only reduce the amount of waste the enterprise generates, but also improve employee morale, enhance the company’s reputation in the community, and even help boost their brand.

Something as simple as providing separate containers for garbage and recyclables in employee break rooms and other areas throughout your facility can help minimize your business’s carbon footprint. And every effort you make to make the community (and the world) a cleaner, safer place is an opportunity publicize your business’s environmentally friendly approach toward recycling.

Recycling Containers

Many towns and cities that have recycling programs will provide containers for residents. But businesses are often left on their own to collect and separate their cans, bottles, paper, and other recyclables.

Purchasing separate receptacles for waste and recyclable materials is a fast and easy way to show your employees, and your community, that you care about your business’s impact on the community in which you live and work. In just a single afternoon, you can take a huge step toward enhancing your business’s reputation and standing within the community.

People are getting more conscious about the effect they have on the world at large. By thinking globally and acting locally, your business can help reduce pollution while at the same time being a better neighbor and a more environmentally conscious member of your local community.

Anti-Fatigue Mats Do More than Just Reduce Back Aches

anti fatigue matWorkers who have to stand for a long time on concrete, tile or other hard surfaces are at risk for back aches. This includes production line employees, food service workers, dockworkers, and many others.

Standing on your feet for long hours at a time can be both exhausting and excruciating. At the end of their shift, many workers are hobbled by sore lower back muscles, foot pain, and leg cramping. These types of physical discomforts can affect a business’s productivity, reduce efficiency, raise workmen’s compensation claim costs, and even cause more employee turnover.

But soft, spongy anti-fatigue mats are highly effective and minimizing on the job injuries such as back, foot, and leg pain.

Providing a Protective Barrier

Anti-fatigue mats are cushioned surfaces typically made from rubber or plastic. They provide a barrier between hard floors and workers’ feet, improving ergonomics and reducing the risk of back pain even after long hours on the job.

This soft, spongy surface compress to prevent feet from absorbing all of the resistance of a hard floor so employees can work longer without the distraction or discomfort of pain.

One of the main causes of back pain from standing directly on hard surfaces is bad circulation. Standing in the same place and in the same position for hours at a time reduces blood flow, which can result in joint pain.

Anti-fatigue mats help blood flow naturally throughout the body to help prevent circulatory problems.

16312842993_b77130e0fe_mMore than Just Pain Reduction

But anti-fatigue mats do more than just reduce back, foot, and leg pain. They also help eliminate slip and fall injuries.

Work surfaces that are wet, oily, or covered with debris are at a higher risk for slip and fall accidents. But anti-fatigue mats that are ribbed, patterned, or slotted help grip worker’s shoes, reducing the risk of slip and falls.

Many anti-fatigue mats are oil, grease, and chemical resistant to minimize the dangers of a workplace accident. Some also come with runoff grooves or raised platforms which allow liquids, oils, and other materials to safely pool.

Protection against Dropping Accidents

Soft, rubber anti-fatigue mats also provide a barrier of protection between the floor and any objects or products that might be accidentally dropped. This can help reduce costs of lost products and save the time of cleaning up broken products or filling out incident reports.

Anti-fatigue mats not only improve employee comfort and reduce the risk of long-term injury, but they also help make your workplace more efficient, safer, and more profitable.



A Clean Warehouse Floor Is the Foundation for an Orderly Business

Photo courtesy of Husky Rack & Wire.
Photo courtesy of Husky Rack & Wire.

Have you ever walked into a vendor’s dock or warehouse and found dirty, stained, and unsanitary flooring? How did that make you feel about that business? Probably, it made you want to run out the door and never come back!

Keeping the floors or your warehouse and dock clean at all times isn’t just good sanitation. It’s also good for your business. In the same way that you recoiled at the sight of another business’s inattention to its floors’ cleanliness, your customers, vendors, and other visitors will make snap judgments about your business if you ignore your floors or let them get too dirty.

There are three essentials to keeping your warehouse clean and orderly at all times. Once you learn these five steps, you will never have to worry about your flooring making a bad impression again.

Create a Warehouse Cleaning Schedule

The best way to keep up with cleaning anything is to create a schedule and then stick with it. Depending on the volume of traffic, your workplace floors should be cleaned at least weekly but preferably daily.

The overnight shift is generally the best time to clean because it’s the slowest. If you don’t run 24 hours then before or after your staff arrives is best.

Assign specific cleaning tasks to specific employees then hold them accountable for performing them according to the cleaning schedule you created. People want to know what you expect from them so it’s important that you be as specific as possible.

Also, inspect what you expect. Don’t take your employee’s word for it that your floors are being cleaned regularly. Have your supervisors conduct inspections after every cleaning. Or better yet, take a walk through your facility and see for yourself.

Clean as You Go

Once a day cleaning is not enough. A better plan is to create a culture in which your workers clean as they go. When everybody is in the habit of keeping your flooring clean, it will ensure your floors are always neat and orderly.

Make sure you provide the proper tools. There should always be plenty of brooms, dustpans, mops, buckets, and cleaning chemicals available at all times.

Heavy-Duty Cleaning Equipment

You may also want to invest in some heavy-duty floor cleaning equipment, such as a ride-on floor sweeper, buffer, or other floor cleaning machinery.

These not only simplify the task of keeping your floors clean but also make the process faster and more efficient.

Different Types of Waste Receptacles Server Different Purposes

garbage cansThere is more than just one type of trash can. In fact, there are dozens, each of which serves a unique purpose.

In any workplace, there are likely to be a wide variety of waste receptacles, including large, durable hard plastic garbage cans for collecting industrial waste to compact, utilitarian garbage cans that are small enough to fit under a desk.

Types of Trash Bins

While it’s difficult to categorize all the many types of garbage receptacles, they can generally be separated into two types: Those for indoor use and those for outdoor use.

Outdoor trash bins tend to be larger, heavier, and made from more durable materials, such as steel. They also usually will feature equipment that allows them to be handled mechanically by garbage trucks, recycling trucks, and other collection vehicles. These features can include casters, side rails, and spring-activated lids.

Indoor Trash Bins

While outdoor trash bins tend to be big and heavy, those designed for indoor use come in all shapes and sizes. The most common are probably the popular 55-gallon hard plastic cylinder-shaped garbage can.  These are found in practically every dock, warehouse, and other workplaces.

Their versatility is what makes them so popular. They often feature an attachable caddy that allows them to be easily rolled from one are to another. They also are easy to clean, difficult to damage, and simple to use. They may or may not come with a detachable lid.

Not all of these types of trash receptacles are round. They also come in square, rectangular, and specialty shapes depending on their use.

Venting Unpleasant Odors

Other indoor trash bins are vented to allow gasses from deteriorating organic trash to escape. Things like food, industrial waste, and other materials that can break down after they are thrown away often generate unpleasant aromas.

Vented garbage cans allow these odors to escape and dissipate, rather than build up inside the can. If they weren’t vented, these gasses could build up and cause a potential health hazard.

cease fire cansAnother interesting type of garbage can are those that are designed to suppress fires. These cans are made of fire-proof metal and feature a special, contoured lid that directs smoke and gas back into the combustion area. This unique design cuts off the fire’s air supply and extinguishes flames in seconds.

There are as many different kinds of trash receptacles as there are kinds of garbage. Finding the right ones for your workplace can boost productivity, improve safety, and make your employees more efficient.


How to Combat Back Aches Caused by Standing

16312842993_b77130e0fe_mAnyone who has to stand for some or all of their shift at work is probably intimately familiar with back aches. That’s because standing for prolonged periods of time can put stresses on the back, as well as other areas of the body, causing the familiar soreness and stiffness.

Backaches can happen to anybody, regardless of their age, weight, physical condition, or even the amount of time you stand.

Common Causes of Backaches

Most backaches are actually caused by stress — specifically, the tension your muscles experience while working to keep your body upright.

Standing in one position for a long period of time — anywhere from an hour to an entire shift — causes muscles to fatigue. This can lead to tendon and ligament damage, which is what causes the pain associated with backaches.

Unless you occasionally rest your body, your backaches will likely worsen. In fact, if you stand in the same position long enough, it can even cause the joints from your neck all the way down to your feet to temporarily lock up.

Posture and Fitness

There are some physical solutions to combatting backaches. If you use proper posture — in other words, standing up straight and tall as often as possible — there’s no guarantee that your back won’t get sore, but it may not happen as quickly.

Poor posture, the other hand, such as slouching your shoulders and holding your hip flexors too tight, can increase the stress on your lower back.

Similarly, the better physical condition you are in, the less likely you are to experience backaches as quickly. Conversely, being out of shape and overweight can cause backaches to occur more quickly and more frequently.

Equipment to Help Avoid Backaches

anti fatigue matBack supports can help prevent injury while lifting, but they are less effective at preventing backaches caused by prolonged standing. On the other hand, they probably won’t hurt.

A better solution is to buy high-quality, supportive boots or shoes. Women should avoid wearing heels if they have to stand for any prolonged period of time.

Both men and women should opt for footwear that is sturdy, comfortable, and have room for insoles or orthotics.

An anti-fatigue mat can also help prevent backaches from happening as quickly or as severely. Anti-fatigue mats provide a soft yet supportive, anti-slip surface that can make you feel as if you are standing on a cloud.

You don’t have to learn to live with backaches anymore.

5 Essential Things You Need to Know about Chemical Spills

Exposure to harmful substances is just one of many hazards that can occur in a warehouse. (Courtesy: Kristi)
Exposure to harmful substances is just one of many hazards that can occur in a warehouse.
(Courtesy: Kristi)

Many businesses use potentially dangerous chemicals every day. While usually these chemicals are safely controlled, in the event of an accidental spill they can put your employees, and your business, in real danger.

Cleaning up chemicals the right way is essential to everybody’s safety. Here are five things you absolutely, positively need to know about chemical spills and how to control them properly.

Be Prepared

If you use potentially harmful chemicals in your workplace, you better have a plan in place in the event of a spill. This should include a spill kit that includes everything you need to clean up small spills of chemicals commonly used at your business.

Make sure all employees are familiar with the spill kit and how to use it to control and remove chemical spills. Your employees also should know the locations of fire extinguishers, manual fire alarm pull stations, eye wash stations, emergency showers, and telephones they can use to call for more help.

Team Approach

In dealing with chemical spills, never allow anybody to work alone. If one person is overcome by hazardous chemicals, nobody else may even be aware of it until it is too late.

Instead, always take a team approach to controlling and cleaning up chemical spills in the workplace. Have at least two employees assigned to the task at all times.

Size Matters

While you and your employees may be able to control small spills, if the chemical spill is too big for you to handle you will need to call for professional help.

Call the fire department for spills that present an immediate hazard of fire, explosion, or injuries due to chemical exposure. Firefighters also should be called for any spill of highly dangerous or caustic chemicals, as well as moderate- to large-scale chemical spills.

Danger Zone

If a chemical is spilled, anybody not assigned to controlling or cleaning it up should be removed from the area. Breathing vapors from some chemicals can cause extreme danger to the health and safety of your people.

If you deem it necessary, evacuate the chemical spill area and let the professionals do their jobs.

Common Sense

Not every chemical spill is cause for freaking out. Small spills that can be cleaned up safely can be handled by staff trained in the proper protocols. Just make sure to replenish your spill kit supplies afterward so the kit is ready when you need it next.




What’s New in Mop Bucket Technology?

Photo courtesy of Alborzagros via Wikimedia Commons
Photo courtesy of Alborzagros via Wikimedia Commons

You might think that mop buckets haven’t changed much in the past 50 or 100 years and, for the most part, you would be right. They still work pretty much the same: A reservoir of water and mechanical wringer to remove excess liquid from the mop head.

But there have been some small, subtle changes that have made mop buckets significantly more efficient in recent years.

Sturdier Materials

For one thing, today’s mop buckets are made from sturdier, more durable materials. Most modern mop buckets are made from a combination of tubular steel frames and structural web molded plastic bodies.

Today’s mop buckets are designed to take more abuse than earlier models which were made of less durable aluminum or tin.

Increased Stability

Anyone who has mopped a floor knows that the worst thing that can happen is the mop bucket tipping over, spilling its dirty water all over the surface that has just been cleaned.

But that’s less of a problem with today’s better-designed mop buckets, which feature either attached casters or a modular removable wheel assembly that can be locked into place with a single twisting motion.

Size Matters

Mop buckets also now come in a variety of sizes, including massive capacity models that are built for the biggest industrial and commercial cleaning jobs.

Wringers also have improved. While they still remain pretty basic — a level and spring assembly attached to a couple of paddles — they are built to last longer. Some mop bucket models are tested to exceed 50,000 wring cycles, compared to traditional mop buckets which could only withstand up to 860 wring cycles.

Wave Brake Technology

But perhaps the most significant advancement are wave brakes that are now built into the molded plastic body of some modern mop buckets.  These are simple half-walls that stop the water within the mop bucket from splashing out as easily.

In traditional mop buckets, it was necessary to use extreme caution when moving or rolling the mop bucket from one location to another.  That’s because the liquid inside the bucket would easily splash out, potentially contaminating the recently cleaned surface.

But the wave brakes stop the liquid from splashing by up to 40%, making moving the mop bucket from one place to another simpler and messes less frequent.

High-Tech Mop Buckets

Some more advanced mop buckets have high-tech features, such as a foot pedal water release mechanism that allows for the bucket to be drained without lifting it — an ergonomic feature that reduces back strain on workers.

Other models feature built-in water cleaning system that use filters to cleanse the liquid within the mop bucket, cutting down on the frequency of changing the dirty water. There’s also a spin dry mop that uses centrifugal force to remove water from the mop.

While these developments may indicate where mop bucket technology is going in the future, the more recent widespread advancements have made an ordinary task like mopping a floor simpler and more efficient.



Efficient Waste Removal Can Improve Productivity and Safety

trash binEvery workplace generates trash. Some of this garbage is industrial waste that is a byproduct of the manufacturing process while others are just normal trash typically produced by human workers.

In both instances, in order to maintain a safe and comfortable workspace, trash must be removed on a regular basis. Generally, this will be done at least once per shift, but you may require more frequent garbage removal if you generate an unusual amount of trash on a daily basis.

Ask the Experts

What’s the best way to remove the trash? One of the easiest ways to plan your trash removal procedure and schedule is to ask the experts:  The people who remove your garbage every day.

Your maintenance or sanitation crew is the most experienced and knowledgeable about how much garbage is produced in your factory or warehouse every day. So they are the people with the best ideas about removing it efficiently and safely.

Generally, there is one central location where all or most of the trash is dumped, such as a dumpster area. To optimize efficiency, it’s important that the most amount of trash can be collected and dumped in the fewest number of trips.

This usually requires a standardized schedule and route for your garbage collection. In many workplaces, a sanitation or maintenance worker will roll a wheeled trash cart along this route and empty each trash can along the route into it, terminating in the dumpster area where the cart is emptied.

Using the Appropriate Waste Disposal Containers

The waste disposal containers you use should be able to accommodate the type of trash you are disposing. For example, if you are dumping hit slag or melted plastic byproducts of your manufacturing process, you probably don’t want to deposit them into plastic containers that can melt or be damaged or destroyed by the waste.

Similarly, garbage containers need to be large enough to hold all of the trash they will receive in between the times they are emptied. But they shouldn’t be too big, otherwise they can interfere with the efficient operations of the area in which they are located.

Waste Carts

Wheeled waste carts also come in many different sizes and materials. The ones you choose for your operation will depend on your specific needs. Once again, when selecting the right waste cart for your business, it’s often helpful to ask the people using this equipment on an everyday basis.

Letting your maintenance staff or environmental services crew select their own equipment will make them feel empowered and also will prevent them from complaining later that you picked out the wrong carts.

Recycling Plastic and Glass Bottles

In some places, recycling is the law. But it’s also a good idea in all places.

Consider installing separate recycling bins for plastic, metal and glass bottles and other recyclables. In many instances, a separate recycling bin is installed next to or near the main garbage dumpster so that it can be conveniently removed by your waste removal service.


How to choose ISO-approved equipment

Few things can be as confusing and challenging and ISO regulations. Your clients demand that your facilities be ISO-certified, so not going ISO is not an option. As if getting ISO-certified wasn’t a big enough headache, you need to make sure that your equipment is also ISO certified. How would you like to spend twenty grand on a new piece of equipment and find out during your next ISO audit that it put your facility’s certification in jeopardy?

mobile crane

Is there a one-stop guide to figuring it out?

Yes, there is. It only makes sense to choose equipment from a guide that lists every type of equipment for every type of job and function-and which is compliant under applicable ISO regulations for your facility. You can only do this if you design material handling procedures that are ISO compliant.

ISO’s website, includes a standard catalog that list material handling activities provides direct links to ISO standards for choosing the right equipment. For example, choosing an approved tractor for agricultural and forestry standards, you can go to the tractors link that is part of the list Standards Catalog for tractors and equipment for agriculture and forestry.

Learning the regulatory language

Navigating the ISO standards, and choosing the right equipment, doesn’t have to be such a daunting task. The ISO site also provides guides on the vocabulary that is sued to draft the ISO regulations your facility must comply with. Different vocabulary lists apply to different industries-such as wine-making and vine cultivation, as one example of vocab lists and language tips that exist in the site.

The site provides you with an overview of the scope of standards you are researching-so you can see just what you are getting into and not get in too deep too quickly. You’ll be able to determine quickly if you will need the help of your compliance expert or if you can tackle the task on your own.

Just to give you some perspective, there are 484 published standards related to the handling of fishing nets. Regulators from 31 different countries participated in the creation of these globally-accepted standards. So don’t assume you are behind the curve if you find ISO compliance complicated-chances are that you do think so-and that’s because it is-that’s that.

The ISO website standards catalogue will provide you with an opportunity to educate yourself, your employees and your internal auditors. Revisions of standards will be fully accessible. The site catalogue will serve as a tool that is continuously updated-and at no cost to you.

Direct access to business plans

So what about a business plan? You need to model your business plan so that it supports the ISO certification you must have to do business with your clients. The ISO standard catalogue includes live links to published business plans for many different businesses and industries. Bear in mind that these plans are for public view as ISO’s website is also public. So the plans can’t be kept secret. On the plus side, you won’t have to pay for them.



Why wet-dry shop vacs are perfect in any facility

Wet/Dry Shop VacuumNo matter how many new home gadgets and tools come to market, there are few that are as useful as the good-old shop vac. There’s no reason why every business shouldn’t have at least one shop vac on hand as well. They are inexpensive, and once one is available for use, those who use it will find that they are indispensable.

A recent article on Do It highlights just a few very good reasons for having a shop vac, such as

  • Versatility-they can be used for wet and dry applications anywhere
  • Power-eve small units are very powerful
  • Movement-they are very portable and light
  • Sizes-they come in all sizes for ease of storage and applicable jobs
  • Disposal of liquids-they can suck up liquid spills and hold them enroot to a proper receptacle.

A shop vac has many specific uses in manufacturing and in material handling operations

It can be very advantageous to have a few shop vacs and designate them for specific applications. For manufacturers who use machines with heat lamps, say for blow mold applications, broken lamps are a constant headache. An effective means to remove broken glass is essential, and a powerful shop vac is the perfect choice.

Shop vac hose extensions and special suction nozzles are readily available. This makes it easy to remove broken glass and contain it until it can be deposited into proper glass receptacles. Small shop vacs can be easily stored in cabinets near their places of intended use so they can stay clean and sanitary in order to protect the integrity of products being produced in the areas the shop vac is used and also to ensure compliance in audits.

Have designated shop vacs as part of specific clean-up kits

Broken glass or plastic is just one of many purposes for having a shop vac on hand at a specific work station or material handling area. A larger shop vac that has capacity for several gallons of liquid can be used for removing certain hazardous material spills.

Of course, you’ll want to check the material safety data sheets (MSDS) first-it is best to be well-versed on the specifics of any materials in use to be sure that no new danger is created through the air exit vent of the shop vac.

A shop vac can be kept I a central location designated for specific clean-up procedures that are documented in your facility’s emergency response plans and emergency management manuals. Be sure the shop vac is clearly labeled as such and stored properly in a marked area. This insures regulatory compliance and also insures you can teach your employees what to look for in order to execute proper emergency response and clean-up should a situation occur that requires it.

Central storage also makes it easy for your in-house auditors to verify the location and inventory of all equipment. Since shop vacs are easily transportable, central storage won’t hinder the effectiveness of your programs.