In this 'refresher' article from the Pitchcare archives, the former workshop manager at Celtic Manor Resort, Pat Callaby, offers some sound advice for getting, and keeping, the workshop tidy
Is your workshop a mess? Are there slippery patches of oil, water or blobs of grease on the floor? Are head gaskets tucked behind electrical conduits?
Are there trip hazards, such as jacks, axle stands, welders, gas bottles, grass boxes, laying down boards, spare wheels, oil jugs, gallon containers, small machines waiting for repair, boxes of parts waiting to be unpacked, dead batteries waiting for disposal, electric leads trailing around, extension leads off their reels, oil trolleys, battery chargers, waste oil or fuel filters, seats off golf carts, backlapper or a space heater waiting for colder weather?
Do you have the vice fully open but not being used; cupboard doors or draws open?
Do you have spark arrestors/guards on your bench grinder, eye protection/goggles on display near grinders and gas welders, all the relevant warning signs about wearing this and that on display?
Is your grinding equipment clean and ready for use with a brush to hand to clean up steel dust? Is the floor painted in the main work area and reasonably clean?
If the answer is 'no' to all of the above, then you are in a right mess. If the answer is 'no' to most of the above, then you are in a mess. If the answer is 'no' to some of the above, then things can easily be improved.
Whatever applies to you, you are the one to put it right, and it is your responsibility to ensure the workplace is safe. If you work in a mess, then your workshop will be treated as a tip by others, cardboard cups/coke cans left on the bench or window sill, cigarette butts thrown down outside on the ground that get walked back into the workshop on the soles of boots, fruit pips spat out on the bench etc. etc.
For a start, you can empty the bin(s) - at least there will be somewhere to put your rubbish. Next, go round the workshop and get rid of all the rubbish, except that which is categorised as hazardous.
Next, collect all the hazardous rubbish and put it in their relevant containers. We all do it; change a fuel filter and leave the spent one on the bench, fit a new grease cartridge and do the same and, before long, there is quite a collection. Oil or fuel contaminated rags or tissue can accumulate as well, but should be disposed of as hazardous waste.
Have a thorough sweep up, clean the grease blobs off the floor and generally prepare it for a coat of paint.
Choose a colour that allows things to be found that drop on the floor. Don't turn the workshop into the 'Black Hole of Calcutta' but, at the same time, don't choose a colour that requires you to wear sunglasses in mid winter. A light grey is good but, for economy, you could mix all the part pots of paint you have found lurking in corners whilst tidying up and lighten it with white.
For the actual painting, you need to choose a time that allows it to dry - at least overnight but preferably longer. Friday afternoon is good if you're not working Saturday. Buy a cheap roller without a tray and pour the paint directly on the floor in lines, spreading as you go, keep the coat fairly thin to aid drying time and don't allow 'puddles' to form in low spots or areas of damage. Go right up to the walls, but be tidy, not sloppy. Try to remember not to paint yourself into a corner.
When the paint has dried, you can then mark your floor so as to paint an area near the walls a different colour to park your axle stands, jacks, tub of grease or any number of other things that must be on the floor rather than up on shelves.
Make it your rule that, from now on, that is the spot where the jack is kept, and that is where the stands are kept - and stick to it. That way you will avoid trip hazards and maximise floor space. It will also be more pleasing to the eye and look efficient, because that is what it is.
This painted 'margin' of your workshop cannot be used as a repair area as it's too close to the wall; only the central area is used for repairs, so utilise that which cannot be used for anything else, as a nice Health & Safety touch the areas can be separated with 'hatching' tape - yellow and black or red and white are readily available.
You can see from the pictures that not only equipment is separated, but also that storage bins are 'behind the lines', clearly defining the work area.
By adopting this method, you will find that your working space appears bigger because it is largely uncluttered. As it's always clear, it is easily swept up and kept clean, giving a more pleasurable and efficient working environment.