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A day in the life: Jenna May

Published on August 25, 2022

Jenna May of new RSK business MSS Group is the first female industrial cleaner at Tata Steel’s Trostre site in South Wales.

During her 18 months in the role, Jenna has been blazing a trail for women in a male-dominated working environment and has received lots of praise from managers for her passion and dedication to her job.

Here, she tells us about what she does, as well as the challenges and best things about working in a profession that is mainly dominated by men.

“I joined the team in February 2021 as an office cleaner and asked for an opportunity to join the maintenance team in April this year,” remembers Jenna. “I thought I would give it three months to see how I got on and then would go back to cleaning offices.

“It turned out I absolutely loved it!”

Jenna’s day can involve jet washing anything from tanks to basements, weekly temper mill maintenance and scarifying substation floors – and she often finds herself covered in palm oil at the end of a shift.

“That can be a challenge,” she says. “I have to wear a white suit, helmet and glasses to tackle the equipment, which can get really hot. In fact, one of the worst things is the heat from the suit. I have to deal with this by taking plenty of breaks and drinking lots of water.”

Jenna’s work can get so dirty that at the end of a shift she has to have a bath and three showers to make sure she is completely clean.

Other challenges include getting up at 4 am for a 6 am shift start, especially when some days can finish at 4 pm, but Jenna says she would not have it any other way.

Working alongside a team of men, Jenna is keen for more women to join her line of work, but praises her boss Lianne James for encouraging her to pursue equal rights, and for all the support she’s given her.

“I really want more female cleaners to join my team. My boss is marvellous, and all for women’s rights. She encouraged me to go for this position so I wouldn’t be in this job I love if not for her,” she explains.

As for the future, Jenna wants to continue what she is doing, simply because she loves it so much. As Lianne says, “It is evident from the photos of Jenna at work that she’s a breath of fresh air. She doesn’t stop smiling, even when covered in palm oil.

“Since she joined the team we’ve received praise from Tata Managers for her work ethic, willingness to get stuck in and quality of work. Even external food hygiene auditors, on a recent visit to site, commented on how positive it was to see a female industrial cleaner.

“As if that wasn’t good enough, when COVID cases started to increase on-site, she volunteered to drive the MSS vehicle around site to deliver stock to enable the team of office cleaners and janitors to continue to do their work.”

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