Many labor saving pieces of equipment in use today can be considered very expensive “bricks” if workers are not training on how to use them safely and maintain them correctly. When I conduct onsite consultations I like to spend some quality time with floor techs and talk “shop.” Often, they are “old school” and swear by urban legends such as using ice water to buff a floor, mixing a “little” stripper in their mop water and bragging that they do not really know how to maintain the equipment they have been given. Following is a graphic example of this attitude costing a company a very nice contract.

The building service contractor had purchased an orbital scrubbing machine with an attached backpack unit to pick up dust. They had the vendor provide onsite training to the one floor tech who was responsible for its use and maintenance. So far, so good. From here on this is a case study in failing to pass on key knowledge to the next generation of workers. As you might guess, the trained worker was promoted or left for some reason. A new person was hired and assigned floor care responsibilities with little or no training or safe use or maintenance. Within a brief period of time, the floors began to deteriorate so he dutifully put down more coats of “wax” at the insistence of the customer who took great pride in having shiny floors. I am told that they finally got up to 20-plus coats of finish of floor, which magnified every blemish, hair, spot, etc. that can be imagined.

As I spoke with the worker, I learned that he had never dumped the collection bag so we opened it up and found torn paper bag with clumps (indicating past moisture pick up) and a plugged cloth bag and filter. He indicated that using the machine caused him to cough, which is the best we can say. We promptly dumped the cloth bag, washed it out, let it air dry and replace the internal filter as well as the paper filter. Miraculously the machine is working much better.

A little knowledge (or ignorance) can go a long way in success or failure of a custodial contract. As always your comments and suggestions are welcome. I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean...

Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678-314-2171 or