What do you do if you feel unsafe while cleaning? You find drugs, sharps or other paraphernalia. Should you call the cops if you feel unsafe while cleaning? Should you talk to the homeowner or should you tell your boss?
Angela Brown, The House Cleaning Guru says maids should maintain client confidentiality. The exception is if you feel unsafe while cleaning. Your safety comes first and the client’s privacy second.
A Savvy Cleaner will get training on uncomfortable situations while cleaning and then use common sense.
Listen: Unsafe While Cleaning – Drugs, Sharps and the Unknown
Watch: Unsafe While Cleaning – Drugs, Sharps and the Unknown
Hey there, I’m Angela Brown, and this is Ask a House Cleaner. This is a show where you get to ask a house cleaning question, and I get to help you find an answer. You can find this and 400 other answered questions in this series on our YouTube channel.
What do you do if you feel unsafe while cleaning in a home?
The question comes from the general manager of a cleaning company. He says, ” I’m the general manager of a cleaning company. I would like to know what you would do when you’re in a home, and you find illegal drugs like narcotics, needles, or cocaine. I have a situation, and I know that as the help, we should turn our heads the other way and, of course, not judge people. But what if you feel unsafe in the home because of the drugs? Would you leave the job and say to the homeowner that you cannot do it, or what?”
Proceed with Caution
As the general manager, this puts you in a little bit different situation than a regular employee. It’s your responsibility to train all the other employees that are under you.
The first thing to do is to go through OSHA training. You’ll learn about Sharps containers and how to deal with dangerous substances. You don’t to be in a situation where you’re cleaning, and you find needles that stick you.
And you’ll want to train all your people in OSHA safety. That way, they know about Sharps containers and how to recognize and dispose of things the correct way. So, that’s the first recommendation.
Know What You’re Dealing With
Next, figure out if it’s drug use or drug dealing. If you suspect that there’s drug dealing going on in a home you are cleaning, there’s a reason to feel unsafe. In that case, you need to go find some new clients.
There will be clues. Clues are things like broken door jambs. If somebody breaks a door down, that means there’s violence in the house. So, if you see that, it’s a big clue that something violent is happening behind these doors. You don’t want to be in that situation. So, go to safety.
Should You Report It?
When cleaning do you see a lot of drugs, and maybe money around? Do you see needles?
If you think there are drug deals going on here and you may be in danger, you can report it to the police as an anonymous tip.
Now, you are the house cleaner and so you have information that a passerby on the street would not have.
You may want to say, “Listen, I work for this cleaning company. I would like to keep my personal identity private.” You might be the only house cleaner there that day, but others in your company may have cleaned there before.
Have Your Information Ready
Now, you want to tell them your situation, and give them as much information as possible including the address.
You also want to give them a list of everything you saw. “I saw needles and cocaine and…,” and you give them details about what you think you saw. If you’re not sure, say, “It’s white powder” or “it’s a crystallized liquid, or I saw a spoon with…”
Go through all the different details of the things you saw. Then, they can direct you to the right person. Maybe it’s a non-emergency call, or maybe the police get in a car and come right over.
Do Not Go to the Homeowner
If you feel unsafe, don’t bring it up to the homeowner. That will put them on the defensive, and they will say things like, “Well, the drugs are not mine. Somebody must have left them there.”
They’ll give all kinds of weird excuses. It’s not going to be helpful to you, and they’re not going to take responsibility. People that do drugs and are addicts don’t say, “Yeah, I know. It’s my bad. I should quit. You know, do you think you can help me find some help?” They don’t do that.
There will be a lot of blame and pushing it somewhere else, and then you’re the narc. So, if they do get turned in, they know it was you. So, do the best you can with this house cleaning. Finish your job, collect your payment, and then call the police. Say, “Listen, I have a situation I just wanted to bring to your attention because I feel unsafe in this house.”
Your Responsibility When an Employee Feels Unsafe
As a general manager of a cleaning company, it’s your job to speak with all the people you work with. So, if you’re sending an employee to that house and you feel unsafe, they will probably feel the same.
You have a responsibility to your employees to keep them safe. If you or your employees feel unsafe – don’t make them go to that house. Terminate your relationship with the client.
Don’t give any excuses or reasons why, and don’t even bring up the drug thing as an issue. It’s going to do more harm than good in this particular scenario.
Just go find a new client because there are a bunch of cool people out there that are fun to work with. They’re easy, they pay you on time, and they don’t leave drugs, needles, and cocaine lying around.
Is Pot Legal?
We’re moving into an era where marijuana or pot as we know it used to be illegal. It was an illegal drug, and now in a lot of places, it’s legal. So, house cleaners are running into it for the first time. They’re like, “Whoa, what should I do?”
Well, if it’s legal, or recommended for medical purposes, there’s not a lot you can do as far as turning them in. It’s legal, right? But there are cases of illegal drugs and substances that don’t belong in someone’s home. You may decide it’s smart for you to report that.
How Do You Handle It Going Forward?
If you’re the general manager, make sure you have a policy in place to deal with illegal drugs. Do you call a tip into the police? Do you go through the OSHA training and make sure everyone knows about Sharps containers and what to look for?
Once you know that, put the policy in writing so that it’s in the employee handbook. Then, make sure that all the employees sign off on the extra training they’ve had.
That goes inside their employee file. Also, make sure if someone feels unsafe in a home with illegal drugs or substances, there’s a known process. They can come to you as the general manager, and they say, “I feel uncomfortable going back to this house.” That gives you a chance to investigate and determine what it is.
Maybe they even take pictures on-site so they have proof to send you, so you don’t have to go back into the home.
Incorporate Safety into Your Rules and Regulations
Once you have rules and regulations in place, you can start using those moving forward. Then, everybody, you train in the future falls into the new rules you’re creating right now. You don’t need to go into a home where you feel threatened, and it’s okay to set those boundaries. Whether it’s the possibility of a drug deal or somebody busting in, or violence, don’t put yourself or your staff in danger.
Once you have those policies figured out and know how you’re going to deal with that, have confidence. Know those are not the people we’re looking to clean for.
Please keep your team safe. Until we meet again, leave the world a cleaner place than when you found it.
Client Confidentiality and Privileged Communications (General Counsel Law Notes)
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