“Essential workers” has become one of 2020’s signature phrases, and we’d suggest that the sweeper operators who tackle parking lots on the overnight shift are as essential as anyone – working in an unusually difficult situation. And they do it night in and night out, providing a cleaning service for their property manager customers and an environmental service for us all.
And they do this while fighting the body’s circadian rhythms – the natural sleep-wake cycle all humans have that repeats every 24 hours. For almost all people, that cycle means waking and working during the day and sleeping at night. Operators of parking lot sweepers, however, work against this cycle. They work throughout the night and try to get their sleep during the day – and that creates a host of challenges. It takes an unusual person with specific personality traits to make a career out of overnight parking lot sweeping (many sweeping companies have identified characteristics they seek in new hires for operators).
But there are actions sweeping company owners -- and the sweeper operators themselves -- can do to better adjust to the challenge of working at night. In this issue we recognize the difficulties these sweeper operators face, and we offer suggestions to help nighttime sweeper operators work more safely, work more productively, and stay healthy.
As we’ve learned over the last few months, more workers than we’ve ever realized are essential, and sweeper operators are certainly among that group. Just imagine all the parking lots you use or drive by littered with weeks on end of debris and garbage – to say nothing of the contaminants that would eventually make their way into waterways via catch basins.
Generating awareness of the challenges overnight sweeper operators face and following suggestions on how operators, their families, and their companies can adjust benefits everyone. And it makes it more likely these essential workers will remain with their companies as professional sweeper operators for the long term.