For safety, aesthetic, and health reasons, a street sweeper keeps the streets clean and free of debris. A street sweeper typically does not require any special education, though many do have a high school diploma, and training is provided on the job. Street sweepers can work for both government and private companies that provide street sweeping services, such as the public works department.
Traditionally, street sweepers used brooms and dustbins to sweep the streets, removing debris and keeping the streets and sidewalks clean. In today’s world, the majority of street sweepers use street sweeping machines that automate the process. Brooms and powerwashers are used to clean the streets, and these large machines typically run set routes at set times to ensure that all of the streets in a city are cleaned, though alleys may not be covered because the sweeping machines do not fit.
Hand-sweeping street sweepers can still be found in some parts of the world. With brooms and debris collectors, these street sweepers clean both streets and sidewalks. They can also work in private parking lots and on private company grounds, ensuring that heavily traveled areas are kept clean and tidy. For example, amusement parks employ an army of street sweepers to keep streets and paths clean for guests’ enjoyment.
When a street sweeper operates a street sweeper machine, he or she steers the machine along the route and deals with any obstacles in the street that the machine cannot handle. During sweeping hours, street sweepers may be authorized to issue tickets to cars parked in restricted zones, or they may contact police officers to request that a ticket be issued. These public works employees also keep an eye out for issues like potholes, which may require the attention of a road crew.
Recognizing the importance of clean streets, many towns and cities provide street sweeping as a municipal service. In smaller towns, coverage may be provided as a public service neighboring municipalities, or residents may raise funds to hire a street sweeping company to clean their streets on a regular basis. When streets are left unswept, debris and garbage can quickly accumulate, emphasizing the importance of regular street sweeping. Because street sweepers are considered unskilled labor, their pay is typically low, but municipal jobs often include benefits such as health insurance, retirement, and paid vacation days.