What are the risks for window cleaners?

Access equipment for window cleaners

Posted on 22nd Feb, 2016 | By Lorretta Tatham

While the job may sound simple enough, window cleaning is actually one of the more hazardous trades. Statistics show that accidents are common, with up to 30 people suffering serious injury on the job each year in the UK. Health and safety risks for window cleaners include falls from a ladder or external sill, falls through fragile roofs, and falls from / accidents related to inadequate access equipment.

Different types of access for window cleaners

The key to remaining safe when cleaning windows is to choose the proper access equipment for the job. A risk assessment needs to be carried out prior to each job too, to assess exactly what the risks are and how they can be minimised.

Method #1 Travelling ladders and gantries

Travelling ladders and gantries are usually found running across large areas of glazed roofing. While useful, users of this type of equipment must ensure that it is properly installed, inspected and maintained – otherwise it may not be safe to use.

When working with this type of equipment, PPE must also be worn, such as a full body harness, while all tools and equipment should be secured properly with a suitable lanyard.

Typical risks: Broken glass; falls; overloading the equipment; injuries from rushing jobs.

Method #2 Suspended/Facade Access Equipment (SAE)

With specialised window cleaning tasks, SAE, such as cradles, should be used. Of course, like any type of access equipment, a user must be properly trained in using SAE before taking on the job. Some of the most important things to consider are that the safe working load is never exceeded and that the equipment is only used in safe weather conditions.

Typical risks: Failure to use PPE; falls; poor weather conditions; overloading the equipment; injuries from rushing jobs.

What are the risks for window cleaners

Method #3 Rope access

In some situations, rope access is the best method in which to get the job done. Rope access methods allow an employee to carry out the job with speed and access locations that may have otherwise been difficult to get to.

Typical risks: Failure to use PPE; falls; injuries from rushing jobs.

What are the risks for window cleaners

Method #4 Ladders

Perhaps the most common method used – and easiest – is the ladder. While ladders are more familiar to work from they still come with a number of risks. Operatives must ensure correct footwear is worn and that the recommended working loads are not exceeded. The height of the ladder should also be appropriate for the job – preventing overreaching and leaning.

Typical risks: Falls; slips and trips; strains from overreaching.

Safety advice from the experts

If you clean windows by trade, why not swot up on your health and safety by booking on to one of our safety training courses? We offer a wide range of courses, the following of which will be useful for your trade:

We can also check your access equipment for you to ensure that it will be doing its bit to keep your safe. Our ladder inspection service includes repairs on any damaged items and can be carried out at 3, 4, or 6 monthly intervals – depending on frequency of use.

To find out more about our safety training courses or our ladder inspections, please give the team a call today. You can contact us on 01282 615517.

Are you a window cleaner? If so, why not share some of your top safety tips too? You can leave them in the comments below or tweet your tips to us @BrownsLadders

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