What Does a Sanitation Manager Do?

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  • Originally Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2015
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In the broadest sense, a sanitation manager leads a crew of sanitation workers and in so doing helps keep a given area clean and free of trash. Many of the largest sanitation crews are operated by municipalities and local governments, and include most trash disposal and pick-up services. Not all sanitation workers deal directly with garbage, though; many companies employ these sorts of experts to keep their facilities in polished and presentable order. This is particularly true in the restaurant and hospitality trades. The manager him or herself is likely to be an active member of a crew, which means that the job will probably include some cleaning and labor-related work. In addition, though, on the managerial side this person will also be responsible for doing things like assigning jobs, delegating responsibility, and creating timelines. Depending on the structure, the manager might also need to coordinate with and report back to other members of the leadership team, and may be responsible for things like contracts and pay negotiations.


Understanding Sanitation Generally

Generally speaking, “sanitation” in the civil context involves keeping public places and spaces free of debris and in line with societal and governmental expectations of cleanliness. To help keep public locations like restaurants, offices, and hospitals clean and safe to inhabit on an ongoing basis, many businesses employ the services of a sanitation crew. This crew can consist of one or more members, depending on the size of the building and the amount of ongoing work that needs to be done. The crew is generally led by a sanitation manager.

Scope and Basics of the Job

The details of the job are usually dependent on where it’s taking place. A person managing a trash removal crew in a major urban area will usually have a very different day-to-day task list than someone maintaining cleanliness and order in a top hotel; likewise, a manager for a restaurant chain will likely have a different set of responsibilities entirely. In nearly all cases, though, the work requires a knowledge of the applicable standards, an understanding of how and when to get the job done, and an ability to coordinate with many different parties.

Since there are so many possible aspects to the job including construction, custodial, and general labor, sanitation management professionals usually need to have a wide skill set. These skills should not only comply with the physical labor requirements of the job, but also include some people skills since this person will most likely be directing and checking the work of others. A good sanitation manager tends to be both firm enough to ensure that workers complete every job by set standards and easy-going enough for crew members to approach easily with any problems that may arise.

In Restaurants and Industry

This sort of manager often takes part in duties involving the cleaning and sanitation of certain establishments, namely food service centers like restaurants and hotels. It may be this person’s job to scrub walls and floors, do routine maintenance work, shovel snow from sidewalks and walkways to ensure safety for patrons and workers, or keep restrooms clean and well-stocked. In large buildings, the manager may simply oversee and check the work of various sanitation and maintenance workers.

In restaurant settings, the manager may also have the job of inspecting food items and equipment to ensure that ingredients are up to date and safe for consumption. He or she may keep detailed logs with the dates food items were purchased and when they will be past their expiration dates. This ensures that food that may be spoiled or rotten is thrown out before it is used in cooking. The manager may also have the responsibility of routinely inspecting the full kitchen and dining area to ensure that everything is up to government safety regulations. This prevents the restaurant from getting a bad report should a health inspector make a surprise visit.

In Civil Society

Municipal sanitation crews are usually responsible for collecting trash and sometimes recyclables and yard debris from homes and businesses, then transporting it to a landfill or other processing center. Managers often set schedules for truck routes and make arrangements for disposal; they also usually coordinate employees to ensure that all shifts are adequately covered.

Getting Started

It’s often somewhat rare for a person to immediately start work as a manager without at least some prior experience in the field. People interested in sanitation management often start out working as a custodian or lower level sanitation worker are eventually promoted to manager. Others have had managerial training, or have special handyman skills acquired in other jobs.

Opportunities for Independent Work

In some cases, the sanitation manager may also work as an independent contractor or self employed person. Handyman service companies are available in some larger cities, and they often involve a sanitation or maintenance worker going from business to business offering services to various companies. Many self-employed sanitation workers started out as managers or supervisors before making the leap into owning a business.


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