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Recently I was contacted by Worksafe New Zealand regarding a
very worrying case where a young boy was badly burnt following the
actions of a cleaner.
The cleaner was attempting to get rid of urine smells in a public
toilet and had used boiling water – resulting in the youngster receiving
8 per cent burns.
I believe a lack of training was a major contributing factor to
this avoidable incident. Things can go badly wrong when there
is an ignorance of the correct, safe processes and procedures of
The Worksafe inspector requested information on what professional
support there was in the commercial cleaning industry and what safety
controls were there in the industry regarding the use of boiling water.
This incident graphically highlights the need for training in our industry.
Without that training being delivered, we not only put ourselves at risk of
injury or illness but also our customers, their staff and the public.
More and more of our customers are requesting information on
the training our personnel receive and the type and content of the
training programmes we have in place.
Quality training requires quality trainers
However, while it’s necessary to have quality training programmes, it
is equally important to have the correct trainers to deliver the training.
Trainers should have a passion for training, understand the importance
of their role, and be properly trained in how to effectively communicate
with others who may not have English as a first language.
The mediocre trainer tells people how to do the task; the good trainer
explains how to do the task; the superior trainer demonstrates the task, and
the great trainer does all of the above but also inspires the trainee.
To ensure our trainers can deliver, we have to give them the tools
and the time to produce cleaners who can deliver the quality of
service demanded in today’s market place. We have to respect the role
of trainer within the organisation and remunerate the trainer in a way
that reflects the importance of their role to the organisation.
Training is not about just telling or showing people how to
carry out a certain task, training is about the trainer passing on
their skills and knowledge to the trainee. It involves, motivation,
instruction, demonstration, checking understanding, patience, tact,
communication, and a host of other skills
For example, if you just tell people to use a colour coding system
without explaining why, without explaining the important role the
system has in preventing cross contamination, without explaining
what you mean by cross contamination, without explaining the
consequences of cross contamination, without checking their
understanding, the cleaner is more likely to do their own thing.
Consequently, we are left to deal with all the resulting problems that
flow on from that type of behaviour.
One of the most important aspects of training is motivation,
motivation of the trainee, and explaining to them just how important
their role is in the wider scheme of things.
It frustrates me when on being asked what people do for a job they
reply: “I’m just a cleaner.”
On hearing this, it indicates to me that any training they may have
received involved few, if any of the skills mentioned previously and
certainly did not involve motivation.
Once the cleaner understands what, how, when and why, they are
less likely to deviate from the process and procedures in which they
We also need to educate our customers in the importance to them
of only using companies that have trained cleaners to carry out the
vitally important service they are buying.
Studies in the US show poor cleaning can result in a 30 per
cent chance of cross contamination and up to eight days loss of
productivity per employee annually. Employees with cold or flu
symptoms can experience a 3-8 per cent loss in productivity.
These same studies indicate that correct cleaning by properly trained
cleaners can produce productivity gains to companies of between 2
and 8 per cent.
The image a significant number of our customers have of the
industry is “all you guys are great for the first couple of weeks then the
standard drops, you are all the same”.
The only way we can change this image and raise the status of
the industry is not only by raising the standards, but by delivering a
consistent quality of service.
To achieve this we need to enable our people through providing
qualified passionate trainers delivering quality training programmes to
our people on the frontline.
Untrained cleaners? Accident waiting to happen
Adam Hodges during a training
session with a group of new
franchisees in Tauranga.
“The mediocre trainer tells people
how to do the task; the good trainer
explains how to do the task; the
superior trainer demonstrates the task,
and the great trainer does all of the
above but also inspires the trainee.”
The only way the industry can raise its status is by delivering consistent quality service. To do this, we need to
provide our frontline staff with qualified and passionate trainers, says Adam Hodge CEO of the Master
Cleaners Training Institute.
Adam Hodge during a training sessions with
a group of new franchisees in Tauranga
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