By: Susanne McIntyre, Director of Client Relations, and Matthew Tardif, Loss Control Consultant
Cintas Corporation, a national company that provides cleaning and safety supplies, held a nationwide Janitor of the Year contest to recognize the best-of-the-best amongst school janitors.
Janitors play an important role in our schools by creating a clean and safe environment to promote learning for our staff and students. We are proud to announce that a janitor from our region was nominated and finished in the top ten.
Rick Bergum, head custodian at Tahoma High School, was nominated for the award by staff and students of the Tahoma School District. While he did not walk away with the top honors, Rick was happy to be a runner-up for this special honor.
It is no surprise that Rick is a world class custodian. It runs in the family. His brother works as a custodian at a high school in Arizona and his dad is on the custodial staff at Tahoma High School. In his 25 years of experience, Rick has seen a lot. And he was willing to share some tips on how he has kept himself and his staff safe.
Tahoma High School’s custodial staff of eight serves over 1,800 students. One recent day started with a water system issue, a fire in a bathroom, equipment to be moved into surplus, and a water fountain needing repair. And that was all before lunch! When faced with days like these, Rick relies on his basic safety beliefs.
Save the Backache
- Whenever possible, the staff uses wheels. Rick purchased a chair dolly to reduce the strain of the daily task of moving chairs. The staff uses hand trucks, carts, dollies, and a MULE utility vehicle for as many loads as possible. They even modified their hand trucks with upgraded wheels to improve performance.
- Rick reminds his staff that many lifting jobs are two-person jobs. It may seem like it takes more time to ask for help, but in the long run it prevents against injury.
- The school does not have a loading dock, so on occasion Rick refuses deliveries. Delivery trucks must be equipped with a lift gate. In one instance Rick refused delivery of an auto engine for the auto shop class because the truck did not have a lift gate and the engine was too heavy for his staff to move.
Learn New Skills
- Rick and his team attend a variety of trainings. Often OSHA and other safety organizations regularly offer classes on ladder safety, electrical work, and lifting techniques.
Keep it Fun
- Rick takes great pride in his work and he enjoys sharing his experience. He writes two blogs. The first is http://custodialanecdotes.blogspot.com/ which highlights the misadventures of Jon E. Mopp. The second is http://custodialworld.blogspot.com/ where the goal is to educate folks on the responsibilities and needs of a school facility.
Rick is a great example of someone who strives to create a culture of safety. And he has done so while maintaining an excellent level of service. Please join us in congratulating Rick on a job well done!