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Spring-cleaning your working environment

You may have noticed recently that winter has gradually left us, while spring puts in an appearance.

For lots of people, this means the beginning of an important activity:  spring-cleaning, a thorough cleaning of your desk, your home, your office – or even your construction site!

Why spring clean your site?

  • First of all, as you organise your working environment, it enables you to create a safe place both for yourself and for those around you – adapted to be more effective.
  • Moreover, it gives the opportunity for you to spot abnormalities and correct them, planning any future maintenance as relevant.
  • It encourages you and your staff (both onsite and offsite) to take ownership of their equipment and working environment.
  • This is a great way to organise your sites and projects to help save time in the long run – if everyone knows what to keep and where to keep it, less time will be wasted looking for items.

What is the best way to spring clean your site?

Some people might say: this is easier said than done. Well, here is an approach to help you take on your spring cleaning more easily: the 5S, a 5 step technique to maintain and improve the safest and best working environment – across your construction sites and beyond.

  1. SORT

    The first thing to do is to separate the essential, and checking that it is fully safe and functional, from the non-essential that needs to be removed. At the same time, standards and processes should be developed to define essential and non-essential equipment or activities going forwards.
    A useful technique to aid the sorting process is by using ‘Red Tags’. Red tags allow the workforce to tag items that they deem to be unnecessary which should be discarded, recycled, relocated or sold on. On completion all the tagged items are reviewed and agreed in the sorting area by the 5S team. The red tag technique is particularly useful in construction as sites are often large and consists of day and night shifts allowing for other staff members to easily identify unnecessary items and question if required.


    The second step consists of choosing a safe place for those essential items identified in the ‘sort’ step, so they can be easily found in the future by relevant staff members or contractors. This is also the time to identify any abnormal conditions such as missing items.

  1. SWEEP

    Once the organisation part is done, it is imperative to make sure that everyone understands the aim of the 5S and those standards and processes agreed in the ‘Sort’ step.
    ‘Sweep’ also involves everyone cleaning and tidying their work area and the site as a whole daily to minimise build-up of items over time – your spring clean next year will thank you for it!


    This step aims at maintaining and improving the 5S technique, by communicating the standards and processes from ‘Sort’, and regularly assessing within your immediate area to ensure they are kept.


    Finally, it is important that everyone feels involved with these processes. This is where you’ll need to cascade the whole 5S approach across the whole organisation and throughout the supply chain, on your various construction sites and projects.

When it comes to a construction site, the 5S approach can be really useful with:

  • Site layouts, traffic plans and material control
  • Control of stores areas -major items / free issue
  • Layout of trade work areas and toolbox contents
  • Trades clearing up after themselves
  • Handling & transport of equipment and material
  • Maintenance of site plant, equipment & facilities
  • Safety of the workforce and the public
  • Maintaining the local offsite condition

5S in action

Here is a great example of a typical site container that has been spring cleaned using the 5S process.

before spring cleaning close up of clutter before spring cleaning after spring cleaning






This resulted in:

Reduced risk of items falling causing injury, less risk of damage to materials, a designated area agreed for all items, shelves being marked out and labelled, safety stock can be better identified, and ultimately; time saved searching through irrelevant items to find the correct equipment

Spring cleaning your data

Other than physical items on your sites, what else might really need spring-cleaning and is an important part of your working environment is your data – be it contractor information, environmental or sustainability data, health and safety records or waste arisings – amongst others.

Indeed, it’s common to save too much unorganised and often irrelevant information, rendering it unhelpful, or possibly even time-wasting!

Well, this 5S approach might be a way to assess and manage your data more easily and make a fresh start for the summer and the remainder of the year!

Need help implementing this 5S approach, or with reducing time waste on your sites and across your supply chain?

Specialists within business and process improvement at BRE can work with you to help identify areas for improvement and provide recommendations to help you save time and have a more organised site. Speak to one of our specialists on 0333 3218 811 today or visit

So, now that winter has gone, will you take the time to do your site and data spring cleaning?