What’s It Like To Work In Industrial Cleaning?
Careers in industrial cleaning are fast-paced and exciting. Everyday brings a new challenge that will force you and your team to find creative ways to tackle the toughest cleaning projects.
From 2008 to 2012, there were more than 50 serious accidents involving the buildup of combustible dust at factories across the United States. All of these accidents were preventable, but these factories neglected to hire an industrial cleaner to resolve this hazard before it got out of control. In many cases, the industrial cleaning industry is designed to prevent these types of accidents – promoting workplace and environmental safety. In a simple day of work, an industrial cleaner could be saving lives and boosting a client’s bottom line.
Unlike jobs in the normal cleaning services industry, industrial cleaners are using advanced technical skills to fix big problems. Industrial cleaners are the first ones called after a chemical spill, railroad derailment, or even natural disaster. No two cleaning projects are ever the same, and each job requires experience and expertise.
Industrial cleaners get to use some of the most advanced industrial technology on the market. From high-pressure hydroblasters with more than 50,000 psi to robotic cleaning tools, an industrial cleaning company has dozens of advanced technologies at its disposal. In the past 20 years, the industry has made enormous strides to transform industrial cleaning into a tech-savvy career. Industrial cleaning services and the scientific community work hand-in-hand. When a new chemical process is developed, it is quickly integrated into the industrial cleaning market – meaning that employees are always up to date with the newest electronics and techniques to get the job done.
Are there a lot of manufacturers, food processing centers, or factories in your area? If you live in almost any rural or urban area, then the answer to that question is probably yes. All of these businesses need industrial cleaners and many of them hire an outside contractor for this work. Some may need industrial cleaning services on a monthly basis, while others on an annual or bi-annual basis. Regardless, there is a steady market for industrial cleaners because their services are so vital. A job in industrial cleaning is also relevant across the country. Your skills are very marketable and in high demand depending on what region you live in, meaning that there are hundreds of job opportunities at any moment.
It is no secret that industrial cleaners are sometimes involved in the cleanup of hazardous materials. While this may seem concerning at first, rest assured that the industrial cleaning industry uses only the most sophisticated safety measures to protect the health of its employees. Full body suits, respiratory devices, and dozens of other safety measures are used with each and every hazardous job. An industrial cleaning company is founded on safety and control, and they typically have decades of experience solving the toughest environmental safety hazards. There are always strict safety protocols that an industrial cleaning service follows – some of these are developed by the company itself, while others are instituted by national safety boards like the U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB). Any industrial cleaning service thoroughly understands OSHA standards to help keep their own employees safe, as well as their clients.
Working with a Team
Industrial cleaning is rarely a one-man job. Every project requires a full team of dedicated industrial experts. This means that every individual holds a valuable position in an environmental project. Working in a team setting means that there is a professional, yet social aspect on the job. Developing strong ties between coworkers often results in quicker, more efficient cleaning projects.
Like any other job, experience in industrial cleaning will provide dozens of opportunities to better your career path. An industrial cleaning company has several positions that a worker can grow towards. Most people begin their careers in industrial cleaning as vacuum truck operators, hydroblast technicians, and field technicians. In any of these positions, you gain field experience and technical skills, without necessarily having relevant prior employment. After a few years of experience here, an industrial cleaner may be able to find a position as:
- Field supervisor: This position requires sophisticated understanding of every step of the cleaning process. A field supervisor directs field technicians and ensures that all safety measures are being followed.
- Response managers: Whenever an emergency response call is received, response managers are responsible for assembling the team and resources to solve the problem. This position values expedient, motivated individuals that can react at a moment’s notice.
- Sales rep/Manager: As an industrial cleaning manager, you will be involved in supervising normal office duties, as well as coordinating training programs. Sometimes managers and sales reps are separate positions, but in many companies, the managers will also conduct sales missions. Sales representatives will communicate with local factories and manufacturers to promote their services and ensure that they are meeting safety guidelines.
Doing Something Important
Earlier in this article, we revealed a startling statistic about the number of fires started by combustible dust. Unfortunately, combustible dust is not the only industrial problem we face – but there are hundreds of known contaminants, hazards, and chemicals that affect thousands of workers every year. As an industrial cleaner, your job is to remove those hazards. Industrial cleaners are saving lives, preventing environmental damage, and enhancing workplace safety. Each project has a real impact on real people and clients are extremely grateful for the protection these services provide.
What kinds of projects do industrial cleaners tackle?
Industrial cleaning is a specific area of resource management and control, but its methods can be applied to a wide range of applications. An average day on the job may include any of the following tasks:
- Emergency spill response: When a large freight truck is involved in a highway accident, anything from gasoline to milk and eggs might contaminate the entire area. This can cause enormous traffic jams and be detrimental to the surrounding environment. An industrial cleaner will use sophisticated vacuum technologies and resource control strategies to prevent further damage.
- Tank cleaning: Factories and manufacturing facilities across the country have silos, tanks, or storage facilities to manage their resources. In order to comply with OSHA standards and keep their products safe, these tanks need periodic cleaning. An industrial cleaning team will scrub, pressure wash, and sanitize the entire tank so it can be used safely and efficiently.
- Hydroblasting: One of the most common jobs for any industrial cleaner is hydroblasting. This cleaning technique using high-pressure water (approximately 10,000 psi) to hazardous and non-hazardous substances from the surface of machinery.
- Vacuum truck operations: Vacuum trucks are used for dozens of spills and cleanups. These trucks serve an integral role in waste disposal. Operations can be used overhead or below ground to remove sludge and excess material from tanks, drainage systems, and furnaces.
- Food industries sanitation: Food processing plants need frequent and thorough sanitization to ensure that consumers are adequately protected. Industrial cleaners are often contracted to clean equipment and storage containers.