It was late on a Friday and my boss at the time came to me with a request to burnish a hallway over the weekend. Not just any hallway, but the hallway in the executive office area. “Ok” I thought, I can do this.” So began my first experience with a high speed burnisher.
At the time, it was early in my cleaning career and I had been part of the janitorial crew for several months. While I had seen the normal floor crew high speed burnishing several times, I had never done it myself. They made it look easy enough. I had also recently learned to run the low speed floor machine, and was fairly comfortable with that skill. So, running the high speed burnisher shouldn’t be a big deal right? I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Set Up To Fail
I arrived on Saturday morning, bright and early. After punching the clock, I went to the equipment closet and got the cord electric, 1500 r.p.m. burnisher, made my way to the executive hallway and began setting up. As the dust mop slid along the floor, I went over the steps in my head. “Put a new pad on. Plug in the machine and squeeze the handle.”
As I finished the prep work, and installed the new pad, my mind was probably more focused on what was going on after work, rather than the task at hand. But even still, after several minutes of fumbling with it, I managed to figure out that the pad retainer was threaded backwards and the new pad was in place. I was ready!
The Wrong Way To Use A High Speed Burnisher
Here is where things went wrong. I squeezed the trigger. The machine lurched to the side in a violent motion and I let go of the handle enough to stop the pad from spinning but not enough to lose control of the machine. “That was weird?” I thought to myself. I knew that the high speed burnisher was just that, higher speed, but surely I would be able to control it. After all, I did master the slow speed machine.
So, I tried again. Firmly planting my feet on the floor, I grasped the handle and squeezed the handle for a second time. “Wham!” Into the wall it went. And when I say “into the wall” I mean the head of the machine went through the drywall!
The Right Way To Use A High Speed Burnisher
I was at a loss. I unplugged the machine, went to the phone and made the call that no one ever wants to make. The dreaded call to the boss. As it turned out, high speed burnishers DO NOT ride directly on the pad like a low speed scrubber. They are actually supported by the wheels and only the front of the pad is supposed to touch the floor.
I probably would have been in a lot more trouble had it not been for the fact that apparently my boss had made the same mistake his first time running the machine as well. A little piece of information he had forgotten to include in his instructions to me.
Always Take Time To Teach
Luckily the wall was not too bad and easily fixed, the floor was shined. I did learned a couple of very valuable lessons.
First, high speed burnishers and low speed scrubbers are VERY different pieces of floor care equipment.
Second, was to never take it for granted that someone knows how to use anything. Education is the most important part of cleaning profession. Because what we do is so specialized, there really aren’t that many people out there that do what we do, on the level that we do it. If you are the one learning, take time to learn and ask questions! If you are the boss, make sure to take the time to actually teach what needs to be known.
Learn from my experience and take the time to learn for yourself and/or teach your staff the proper ways to use the products and tools that we use. It’s only fair to your business and your walls!
If you want to learn more about burnishing floors, here is a link that will explain how floor burnishing works.