Have you ever looked at a factory, power plant or warehouse and wondered how they clean it? That’s the work of industrial cleaners.
Cleaning a factory or industrial workspace is very different from cleaning an office. Industrial cleaners maintain a clean and safe working environment in industrial buildings.
Industrial cleaning services
Industrial cleaners do light and heavy duties. The most common duties are:
- dust ceilings, rafters, lights and covers, vents, equipment and walls
- clean and sanitize surfaces in common areas
- clean washrooms with disinfectant and restock hand soap, paper towels and sanitizer
- clean offices, labs, locker rooms, seating areas and shower areas
- clean loading docks and assembly areas
- remove trash from waste containers to dumpster; pick up trash around the grounds
- wash windows, including ground floor exterior windows
- clean exhaust systems
- degrease and clean equipment
- clean up spills quickly
- clean floors made of different materials
- remove stains (oil, grease and paint)
- sand and refinish hardwood floors
- power scrub, acid wash and seal concrete floors
- vacuum and steam clean carpets
- do maintenance and repair work inside and out
- inspect, clean, fix and maintain machinery and equipment
- remove dirt and snow or ice from exterior walkways
- remove graffiti and report vandalized property to building managers
- use signs to notify employees of potential hazards e.g. slippery floor
Industrial cleaning is labour-intensive work. It requires considerable physical strength and endurance. You are always on your feet.
This cleaning service involves risks working around dangerous machinery and with hazardous chemicals. You must use safety equipment and know how to operate machinery safely. This may include industrial trucks, steamers, polishers and power washing or blasting equipment.
If the equipment you are cleaning is sensitive to dirt and dust, you need to work with care.
Industrial cleaning services often work after normal working hours for employees. In industries that operate day and night, cleaners need to be available at any time. If there is a chemical spill in the middle of the night, workers expect cleaners to deal with it immediately.
Effective communication skills are essential for industrial cleaning services. You need to understand exactly what your client needs. Your client’s needs and concerns can change from day to day. You must also be able to write reports and communicate safety concerns to management.
This is a service that requires a high level of trust on the part of clients. They trust you with locks and passcodes. They trust you in risky situations. Your clients also trust that you will keep their work areas clean and in good shape. They trust that you will keep employees safe.
How is industrial cleaning different from janitorial cleaning?
Industrial cleaners have a different role than janitors. Janitors usually clean floors and washrooms, sanitize surfaces, and take out trash. Industrial cleaning may involve these jobs as well as riskier work.
Industrial cleaners may work in uncomfortable and dangerous conditions. They often work near hazardous equipment and materials, including chemicals. Sometimes they work in confined spaces like storage tanks.
Essential training for industrial cleaners
Occupational health and safety regulations are very important for industrial cleaners. You need to know how to protect yourself and others. Plus, you need to recognize hazards. You also must use the appropriate personal protective equipment for each job. For example:
- Do you need to protect your eyes and face?
- Do you need hearing protection for exposure to high levels of noise?
- Is the height you’re working at dangerous and you need a safety harness?
Industrial cleaners must be familiar with WHMIS and Material Safety Data Sheets. Some jobs, such as removing toxic mould, asbestos or mercury, need special training.
If this type of cleaning service interests you, consider getting trained in:
- Bloodborne Pathogens in the Workplace
- Confined Space Safety
- Electrical Safety Basics
- Essentials of Occupational Safety and Health
- Hazard Communication
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Workplace Hazardous Material Information System
How do you charge for industrial cleaning?
The charge for industrial cleaning services depends on many factors:
- the size and nature of the business
- your company’s experience
- number and size of windows
- equipment needed
- number of cleaners, and
- skills required.
Rates can range from $16 to $50 CAD per hour for each cleaner or from $.10 to $.50 per square foot.
For each potential job, you must tour the business premises. Calculate the scope, complexity and schedule of the work. Estimate the cleaning staff needed and determine the equipment and products required.
Industrial cleaning is important, challenging work that requires strength, careful attention and integrity. It keeps dangerous work environments clean and safe for everyone in the building.