Believe it or not, window cleaning can actually be a very dangerous task.
For too many years, it has been expected that a window cleaner will go places and take risks on ladders and window sills that no one in their right mind would normally do as part of their job. I still find it amazing what home owners expect a window cleaner to do. And many on the owners who expect the most dangerous climbs, expect to pay the least! I suppose that this is a throwback from many years of old style window cleaners making these dangerous climbs in the past day after day – until they fell off. They did this because they needed to make a living, so if they didn’t clean that window – someone else would, and would get the job for that house or business. In the UK and Ireland, we are also known for our windy weather – some places more than others. How may people will go up a ladder with no support in gusts of 45mph? Well, I can tell you that this is done day after day by window cleaners – until they fall off.
Today, many people hate the sound of “Health & Safety” it speaks of restrictions and not being allowed to get the job done. Though, in the window cleaning business, the H&S executive had to make changes as too many window cleaners where either dying or getting seriously damaged. They brought in restrictions like how high you could go up a ladder and how it had to be secured etc. These decisions were based of the outcome of many accident investigations, they are designed to keep more people safe when up ladders. One of the regulation they brought in was that you couldn’t use a ladder if a safer alternative was available to you. This is where the water fed pole system started really taking off.
The Water Fed Pole (WFP) cleaning method had been around, but not widely adopted as it was expensive – certainly many times more expensive than the traditional tools – a ladder, squeegee and applicator.
Today, more and more window cleaners are using the WFP cleaning method. There are a number of real advantages, such as getting a better clean in my opinion and getting the frames cleaned as well, but the thing that really pushed it into the forefront was safety. You can clean just about any household or low-rise commercial window from the ground, so no more ladders to fall off, or walking along dangerous window sills, walls etc. I still carry ladders on my van, but only occasionally have to use them. With a carbon fibre water fed pole, I can clean 3 storey houses and roof windows all from the ground. I also clean multi storey office buildings and factories – all from the safety of the ground with a water fed pole.
|This is a window cleaner’s ladder sitting on the edge of a wall over a drop with stone steps at the bottom. If the ladder slipped on the green mould or accidentally knocked by a passer-by, the window cleaner would have very little chance of survival. This was done in the UK Feb 2014 – not years ago. The window cleaner risked his life to clean one window. He admitted that if he had a water fed pole system, then he would not have needed to do this.|
Here are a few reports of some of the many accidents that still happen from traditional window cleaning. Most, if not all of these accidents happened because the H&S working at height regulations were not observed: