Routine housekeeping audit inspections may seem like overkill in some small businesses, at least to the business’s employees. Despite this, housekeeping quality audits promote workplace safety and a pleasant work environment. While a department manager is most often responsible for conducting a formal quality audit, employees may be more apt to “buy in” if they’re part of the audit process. A scheduled housekeeping audit that follows an audit quality checklist performed at the end of each shift or at the end of the workday increases workplace safety, benefiting both the business and employees.

Audit Checklist Function

One reason to create a checklist for use during a housekeeping audit is to ensure the business complies with Occupational Safety & Health Administration guidelines. OSHA Regulation 1910 outlines guidelines and requirements for workplace cleanliness and safety. Guidelines apply to most small businesses, with the only exceptions being those businesses where “domestic, mining, or agricultural work only is performed.” Basing a checklist on OSHA guidelines and incorporating steps that enhance the working environment makes the checklist an essential operational document.

Audit Checklist Format

A housekeeping audit quality checklist is often broken into categories, each of which contains a number of individual steps or checklist items. General categories include floors, employee-only areas, aisles and stairways, storage areas and waste disposal. Some also include categories for spill control, equipment and machinery maintenance, and fire prevention. Although a single check box next to each item that serves as a “yes” or “no” method of evaluation is the most common, some also include a small space to add an additional explanation.

Audit Checklist Items

The industry and workplace area determine the number and specificity of checklist items. A retail business, for example, might not include checklist items relating to properly storing toxic chemicals and waste in a waste disposal category while a small-business auto body shop definitely would. OSHA and safety-related housekeeping duties are most often the first checklist items, followed by security-related items such as properly shutting down workstation computers, ending with housekeeping duties such as removing uneaten items from a lunchroom refrigerator that simply enhance cleanliness in workplace areas.

Using a Housekeeping Audit Checklist

A housekeeping audit checklist can only be as effective as the predetermined follow-up procedures put in place to correct housekeeping violations. Not only should a checklist always include the most current OSHA requirements, but also employees should receive training on workplace cleanliness expectations. The degree of importance the business places on adhering to cleanliness expectations often determines how well employees follow these procedures. Even minor violations should be dealt with immediately and appropriately by the department manager or the business owner.