Cleaning Business App for Safety & Operations
“To be quite frank, as employers, we have zero excuses to not have something like this set up to protect our teams. ” – Amy Landers, Boss Lady Cleaning Hacks
Join ISSA, the leading cleaning, maintenance, and facilities organization, for an important conversation to raise awareness among employers and employees on overlooked areas of workplace safety. In addition to injuries and illness, common hazards in the cleaning industry can include harassment and even violence. Recent tragic events, like the death of a cleaning professional in Colorado, underscore the importance of this discussion.
Chad Howell from TRUCE Software and Amy Landers of Boss Lady Cleaning Hacks share insights into health and safety in the workplace. Amy Landers, a professional cleaner and business owner, brings real-life experience to the conversation. She highlights the importance of employers focusing on team training and offering safety solutions that are easy to access.
Jeff Cross: Welcome to Straight Talk. Today’s episode is unique, in that we’re going to discuss something that is very important but perhaps not addressed often enough: safety in the workplace.
And we’re not just speaking of workplace injuries, which are serious enough. Today, we are digging into how to keep frontline professionals, cleaning professionals, safe from those looking to harm them.
What’s going on, you might ask? Well, for example, in the news recently, there was a report of a residential cleaning professional killed and dismembered in a home in Colorado.
That is unheard of. This issue of lone worker safety needs more attention in our industry, and to dig into this, I’m going to welcome two guests who have important information to share.
It’s great to have you both on our program today, Chad Howell with TRUCE Software and Amy, from Boss Lady Cleaning Hacks. I’d love it if you would take a moment to introduce yourselves and tell us just a little bit about what you do. Amy, let’s start with you.
Amy Landers: My name is Amy Landers, and I go as Boss Lady Cleaning Hacks on my social media platforms, and I’ve been a professional house cleaner for many years. And I pretty much teach people how to clean specific difficult surfaces in their homes.
Jeff Cross: Perfect. It’s great to have you, and I know you’re going to tell us about your experiences here in a moment. Let’s go to you, Chad. Tell us about yourself.
Chad Howell: Appreciate that. Chad Howell, here. My role at TRUCE is VP of Product Management. My background is pretty deep in the technical end of things. I’ve worked across a lot of industries around safety for a good bit of that, a lot of work in the oil and gas industry, a lot of folks offshore – various different types of industrial safety arenas.
We do similar things at TRUCE. We’re looking at mobile devices, and we provide safety in various ways. We’ll talk a little bit more about that today.
Jeff Cross: Chad, I know as part of this program, TRUCE Software is bringing this to everyone. Tell us about your company and what you offer the industry.
Chad Howell: We look at mobile devices as just being a key element in our lives today. We use them every day at home and at work. More and more it’s becoming a prominent device that is used for productivity and efficiencies and on the job.
What TRUCE looks to do is understand the situation that a worker might be in throughout their day. And with that, we call it “context” of their current situation. We can do different things, so one of the elements we really focus on is managing the use of that device and sharing the proper access at the right time.
We also can use that same knowledge of the worker situation to leverage safety and communication tools to really allow for them to be connected throughout their day. And leveraging that mobile device to stay in touch and stay safe as they work throughout different environments and different conditions throughout their day.
Jeff Cross: Thank you for doing that. It’s very important. Amy, we’re going to go to you and talk, obviously, about that cool name you have there “boss lady cleaning hacks.” I understand you have a TikTok channel; how did you decide to start that, and when did it really gain momentum?
A Modern Day Advice Column for Cleaning Tasks
Amy Landers: I believe I started it around 2019, and I showcased a really dramatic before and after.
The video just went viral, which was my first viral video. Everyone wanted to know what I used, and then my page slowly turned into a modern day advice column, pretty much, and I just went with it.
Jeff Cross: I tell you what Amy, I need some help with my TikTok channel so maybe we’ll get off camera and figure that out.
Amy Landers: You got it.
Jeff Cross: Congratulations on your accomplishments. But we’re here to talk about safety as well on the job. What are some of the safety risks you’ve encountered as a cleaning professional and a business owner?
Amy Landers: Some of the biggest would be getting hurt on the job, which unfortunately happens often. Working alone is always a risk on multiple different levels. You never really know who you’re working for or what they could potentially be capable of, and then also we have to watch out for strangers who sometimes pop in. That is always alarming.
Jeff Cross: There’s a reason you’re here, Amy, and it’s because I understand you were almost attacked on the job. Now, can you tell us about that?
Unforeseen Commercial Cleaning Potential Hazards
Amy Landers: Yes. I believe there was a specific time where a situation could have developed into a terrible story if I had not reacted as I did.
A strange man had entered a vacant house where I had been cleaning alone, and I wasn’t informed by the client that anyone was going to be present while I was cleaning there. After I quickly assessed the situation and realized the vibe was off, I ended up exiting the home through the closest door.
I’ve unfortunately been through some pretty traumatic situations in my life and that has caused my fight or flight to always be active, which I think helped me in that specific situation.
Jeff Cross: So you were scared. You had to do something and that was it, leave the building.
Amy Landers: Yeah.
Jeff Cross: I’m glad you’re safe and that nothing happened with that. Let’s talk about what businesses can do to protect employees.
What are some best practices to consider? And Chad, let’s start with you on that.
Chad Howell: Yeah, absolutely. You know, it’s a perfect way to react there, right? The most important element with safety, from a personal protective standpoint, is not to ignore those types of feelings, right? Recognize when you’re feeling that spidey sense, and you think something’s a little bit off.
And take action very quickly, right? Don’t just hide in the corner or not look in that direction. From a personal protective standpoint, it’s absolutely the right move.
Why Create a Safety App for the Cleaning Industry?
The way we look at this from more of a business level sort of safety concept, it’s about having the right tools to be able to stay connected and stay confident that you’re not out there alone, even when you maybe truly are.
We look at this in various ways. One thing, again, for TRUCE is that mobile device is always there. That’s one thing that you can pretty much be sure of. So we really look at layering in different types of communication, different types of safety outreach and efficient ways that that worker can sound an alarm, so to speak, any time they even feel the slightest bit of discomfort.
Early on in that process, it may be worth letting the team know, hey, I’ve arrived on site. I am alone, but everything seems to be safe. As you start understanding other things that are happening around you, maybe it’s sounds or an individual that approaches the area, those escalation events can also be delivered out to the team.
You create this buddy system without actually having anyone present there with you. So that’s a real focus for us around how to keep folks safe when they’re out in the field and especially alone.
Jeff Cross: Very smart technology to have. And of course, Amy didn’t have it at that time, I imagine. She did the right thing. But if she’d had it, she would have had that extra level of protection, correct?
Chad Howell: Absolutely.
Jeff Cross: OK. Amy, can you add to what Chad just talked about there?
Reduce Risks in the Cleaning Industry
Amy Landers: Sure. Not only do I think that employers should create team training for specific situations that could transpire, but having accessibility to mobile apps such as this is critical. As an employee myself and an employer as well, I’ve both been in situations where I wish that I had accessibility to something like this.
To be quite frank, as an employer, we have zero excuses to not have something like this set up to protect your team, you know, zero excuses.
Chad Howell: It reminds me of a lot of the other industries that I have worked in. You think of just oil and gas and really industrial in general, not just offshore but any type of hard-hat, high-risk environment, safety is such a primary focus, right? It is like the number one. You have Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements. You have all these other regulatory bodies that are defining specific procedures and processes to account for all of these possible safety risks, and especially folks that are alone.
I can remember in the oil and gas world, those lone workers were looked at as being the most important to focus on, not only because they were in harsh environments but because they didn’t have anyone there to help them if a problem arose. Understanding that, we look at those field workers, lone workers and folks in your type of field as being sort of in that same sort of safety risk in a lot of cases but without the regulatory coverage and the processes that some of these other industries have.
So you’re right. It’s important to be aware of what options you have out there and make sure that you’re taking advantage of that.
Amy Landers: Agreed, 100%.
Jeff Cross: It’s important that the industry pays more attention to safety. We’ve talked about that. Is this safety issue more common than people may realize? Because many might be watching this thinking, well, I don’t have these problems. I don’t have these concerns, yet here we are. Amy, what do you think?
Amy Landers: I have hundreds, maybe thousands of cleaning professionals, both male and female, that follow me on my page. And they constantly tell me situations that they’ve been in that are similar to mine, if not far, far worse. So yes, I think that it’s horrifyingly common.
Jeff Cross: And a big responsibility, as we already mentioned, to employers to protect their people. Chad, would you add to that?
Show a Commitment to Health and Safety
Chad Howell: Yeah. I think a lot of times, what you see with this type of situation is that folks don’t talk about these things that they come across, right? You think about those hundreds and thousands of people that you’re connected to, you’re creating an outlet for them to voice their opinions, and you have similarities there that you start to share with each other.
Oftentimes – and it’s kind to my point earlier about ignoring the situation – you don’t want to ignore the situation when you’re in an environment that is of risk, that’s for sure. But you also don’t want to ignore the fact that it took place, right?
You need to learn from it. You need to share it with others. And you need to make sure that that type of situation doesn’t present itself, right? Learn from those mistakes and take action accordingly moving forward.
Amy Landers: If you don’t mind, I’m going to say something. When you’re a house cleaner, and you’re working alone, sometimes things that happen in your surroundings, you may not realize that it’s unacceptable. You may not realize that other people have been through this, and they maybe have a plan on how to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
That’s one thing I really like about the community on my TikTok page is we do openly discuss things. We do let everyone know that that is not normal behavior. You need to drop this client if they’re making you uncomfortable, everything. It’s just, it’s a really good way to keep talking about things that are going on to make more people aware of it.
Jeff Cross: Thank you, Amy. Good addition to our conversation.
Chad, let’s go to you, and could you talk about how TRUCE Connected Worker Solutions is something to consider and explain how it works for employees in the cleaning and maintenance industries? Because we need solutions for this.
Digital Personal Protective Equipment
Chad Howell: Yeah, absolutely. So we look at it from the full journey of their day, right? You don’t just pop into a place alone. You’re driving to different areas, and there’s things you do throughout the day.
So TRUCE, if you think about our full solution set, one big aspect is driving safe, right? Making sure you’re not using that device while driving around. So the distracted driving piece is one part of that.
Once you arrive on the site, TRUCE recognizes that transition. So we see that you’ve now parked that vehicle. You’re now moving into what we would consider a working environment. At that point, there’s teammates that would be able to have options to see location, sort of a check-in concept of, yep, I can see now that Susie’s arrived.
While on-site, you have options to communicate out to that team with different degrees of concern you may have. So you can self report that, hey, everything is perfectly good. I can check in every now and then to make sure that folks know that I’m still maintaining a good, positive work environment.
But at any point you start to feel where there’s a bit of nerves coming in, maybe you’re not quite at a situation that needs immediate help or attention, but you want to let folks know that, hey, there’s something happening – maybe it’s a dog barking or some loud music playing, and you’re just feeling a little bit eerie – you can connect with your team through our solution.
Let them know that, hey, there’s something happening here. Everything seems to be OK right now, but just want to make you aware of it. Again, it’s making sure that that connection can happen very seamlessly.
Now, all of a sudden, you’re not just by yourself, hoping that nothing happens. You can communicate and have this open dialogue through the platform.
These types of things allow for that quick connectivity to take place.
There’s also various types of just outward communication, where if someone needs to reach out to folks in the field, you can do that and really alert them about maybe changing the conditions out there or things that they need to be aware of.
It’s both ways from an administrative supportive standpoint; you can reach out to folks in the field and vice versa. It really is about just keeping an eye on safety, being free to communicate, and being open to be able to let folks know your current state of affairs in real time.
Jeff Cross: So Chad, with any great program, we want to know how it works. Could you talk about the operation side of TRUCE Software and what we’re discussing today?
Improve Cleaning Jobs & Business Operations
Chad Howell: Absolutely. The two big things that TRUCE looks at is always safety and productivity, right? Those are two things that are just keen to what we do.
Using this device appropriately throughout your day is important so that we’re not falling into safety risks, not paying attention and being distracted, but also making sure that we’re doing the work that needs to get done, right? Those two aspects of things are always critical to us.
The same is true with our communication platform. It’s there for communicating when you’re in harm’s way or you need assistance in the field. But it’s also a platform to leverage throughout the day for any other type of communication.
It goes beyond the text message or phone call voicemail that we do every day from a consumer type situation. You can use these tools to reach out for different types of operational needs. It might be you’re missing a certain tool or a component that’s needed to finish a job, or maybe I have a flat tire, and I’m stranded on the side of the road. I want to make sure that my team knows about it.
This system can not only help if you’re in dire need or in a situation of risk, but also throughout the day. You can use this to leverage for any kind of communication needed day to day to finish the job. You know, being able to send out a message, right, is important and making sure it gets to the right person, right? That’s one half of the story.
Being able to respond, right, and making sure that the person receiving that message is able to have the tools they need to quickly triage, respond, get help if needed, or just answer the question that comes up, so our system is very much built for that workflow.
A Buddy System to Protect Maintenance & Cleaning Staff
Not only do we make sure that the right person is notified, and if they don’t answer or acknowledge in a period of time, it can go to the next. You can have this escalation process to make sure those folks are getting notified.
Once they do receive that, they’ll have all types of information about where you are, what’s going on on the job, how long have you been there. Give me a map if that’s something that we would want to share. Let me see exactly where you are out there. And even better, if there’s other workers or team members nearby, they can show up as well.
That buddy system can then quickly happen where maybe John is right down the street, we can send them your way and make sure he can help you finish that job if you’re in harm’s way. So really making sure, and we’re building on this more and more, that when that person that’s receiving the alert receives that, they have quick and easy ways to respond, triage, and get help if needed.
Jeff Cross: Amy, let’s go back to you. How do you feel about all this? And what do you plan to do to further your cause moving forward?
Amy Landers: I want to continue discussing topics that are similar to this. I want to keep eyes and ears on it and keep educating people because if I tell my stories 100 times, and it helps even just one person, then me being vulnerable is 100% worth it.
Jeff Cross: You have a platform to do that with your TikTok channel and your other media outlets, so thank you for all you do for the industry. And Chad, you get the final question. So what’s next on the product roadmap that would be especially relevant? And how can those who want to learn more do so?
Chad Howell: For us, we’ve been focused now for a good bit working on this communication platform, right? The escalation concepts, making sure that it can really work amongst a small or large team of individuals.
Our next real focus is around automation. We’re looking at bringing in various types of additional data inputs to be able to make folks aware of circumstances maybe before they happen. Or if they’re unable to report those back, we can get ahead of some of those things.
Think about crime environments, high crime, kind of be aware of the environment around you, weather conditions, different types of things that may affect that person when they’re right there on-site or, like I said, kind of throughout their day as they’re driving to and from different locations, making sure they know where they are, and be aware of certain things as they come up. So really diving into that automation side of things to just continue to build upon the platform that we have with communication and safety.
Jeff Cross: Chad and Amy, thank you so much for being with us today. Those watching now have solutions to protect themselves. Employers can protect their workers.