Improving How The Public Looks At The Cleaning Industry

Through our magazine pages and our strong online presence, our content is shared around the world. As a result, we receive many comments and critiques. Most are constructive, encouraging and appreciative, but there are others that strike a nerve.

Recently, one of our writers received this feedback: “You tend to make janitors look like they have real jobs that people want to do the rest of their lives. Don’t you think this is a little much?”

A comment like this isn’t new to industry veterans, but that reality only adds to the frustration. Facility management is honest and necessary work done by hardworking and dedicated individuals. But more than that, cleaning workers save lives on a daily basis.

A properly trained cleaner working in a hospital will prevent vulnerable occupants from further health complications. Staff targeting germ hotspots in a high-traffic airport will eliminate cross-contamination. And, unfortunately, many school janitors have added first responder to their job duties.

The realization that cleaning workers are on the front lines of protecting building occupants often goes unnoticed, so I’m here to notice them.

In February, the janitor (who has opted to remain anonymous) at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was credited with saving countless students from a gunman by redirecting them away from danger.

In December 2017, Thomas Hill, a custodian at Aztec High School in northern New Mexico actually pursued a gunman while warning students and faculty to take cover.

In September 2017, Joe Bowman, custodian at a high school in Spokane, Washington, also stepped in to stop a school shooter.

These brave individuals stepped up in extreme situations, but there are plenty of other cleaning workers that go above and beyond to protect building occupants on a daily basis.

There is so much good in this industry — I wish I had enough space to recognize it all. These great individuals working in facilities management not only keep our spaces clean, they protect occupants from harmful bacteria, slip-and-fall accidents, poor indoor air and even the occasional human or environmental threat.

So, to those naysayers that question why we work in this industry, I encourage you to stop and think about what life would be like without these hardworking, dedicated janitors. People in this industry should be thanked and praised for keeping facilities attractive and safe.

Here are just a few reasons to stop and thank a janitor.