High Rise Window Cleaning Safety Measures

The window-cleaning industry is divided into two categories: ground work and suspension work. High-rise window cleaning involves buildings over four-stories tall. Workers are suspended from the top of the building or work from elevated scaffolding erected on the exterior of the building. Depending on the nature of the operation, workers can be faced with various safety hazards.

Safety must be paramount for high-rise window cleaners, as any accident that happens several stories off the ground will have catastrophic consequences. The responsibility of ensuring the safety of the window cleaners rests with all parties involved in the window cleaning operation. This includes the contractor, the workers and the building manager.

Extensive High-rise Training and Certification

Like most dangerous jobs, high rise window cleaning requires comprehensive training. Workers must have a comprehensive knowledge of what equipment to use, understand the safety features of the equipment and how to use it effectively. Additionally, workers must be highly skilled and comfortable at working at heights.

Medical Examinations

Due to the extreme height of buildings, with many over 50 stories high, workers must be checked for any medical conditions that could possibly interfere with their work performance. Conditions that could affect performance, and safety, when working at extreme height include balance issues, epilepsy, high or low blood pressure, diabetes and impaired limb function.

Safety Lines and Anchors

Workers must wear a safety harness around their chest or chest & legs that is connected to both a working and safety line. These ropes are typically adjacent to one another. A backup safety-line adjustment device prevents a fall if a worker slips, loses control or the main working harness line fails. A “descender” allows the worker to get down safely by gently lowering the worker to the ground in case of a slip or fall.

Safety anchors should be connected to the sides of the buildings before cleaning building windows. Anchors typically will have been tested for a safety rating load of 1,000 pounds. The safety and main lines typically go through eye holes in the anchor and are designed to help prevent accidents if a bolt comes loose. Anchors are tested at least once every year.

Site Assessment

One of the most critical aspects of job safety during high-rise window cleaning operations is the ability to identify and assess workplace hazards. Site assessment identifies the safety hazards workers may run into at a job site. A model job-site evaluation plan can be found on the International Writing Centers Association website. Here are the major workplace safety hazards that are evaluated as part of the site assessment:

Weather: Weather conditions must be constantly monitored during any active window-cleaning operations. Professional high-rise window cleaning requires workers to be outside in various weather conditions. As such, inclement weather conditions that include extreme hot and cold temperatures, precipitation, lightning and wind conditions are all taken into account. Due consideration has to be given whenever a wind speed of 15 miles per hour or greater is present. Exterior high rise window cleaning should not take place whenever there are sustained wind speeds in excess of 25 miles per hour.

Personal Protective Gear: Window cleaners can be exposed to a variety of chemical-cleaning products. They must wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, eye protection and possibly respirators, depending on what chemicals are being used on a particular job. A helmet helps protect the workers head from injury in the event of a fall as well as from objects that may fall from above the work area. Appropriate work boots with steel toes protect worker’s feet from slipping, chemical exposures and impacts. High-visibility clothing allows others to readily notice the workers.

Tripping and Falling Hazards: Falls are the primary hazard faced by commercial window cleaners and crews working on high-rise buildings face increased fall hazards. The greatest fall hazard exists when working on surfaces without adequate edge protection. Edge protection includes a guardrail or a structural parapet a minimum of 42 inches high.

Changes in elevation of work surfaces greater than four feet that are not protected by a structure 42 inches or taller, such as a guardrail, can pose tripping hazards. Tripping hazards can include, but are not limited to, scaffolding and skylights and dissimilar roof heights, balconies and unprotected holes and retaining walls on the ground.

Cleaners can reach away from their body to clean a window, provided only their upper body is extended past the edge of the structure they are standing on and both feet are set firmly on said structure. Body weight should never be supported by a window or window frame when reaching out to clean.

Ladders: Job-site conditions may dictate the need for ladders. Crews must use the appropriate type of ladder, such as an extension vs. a step ladder, for the appropriate conditions.

Electrical: Workers must be constantly aware of electrical hazards to avoid shock or electrocution. This requires maintaining a minimum 10-foot distance from all exposed outlets, electrical fixtures, power and supply lines in the work area. Ladders, water-fed and extension poles shouldn’t be extended to a height to allow these devices to come within 10 feet of power lines or power supply devices.

People: Others, such as building occupants, co-workers and members of the public, will usually be present during most types of high-rise window cleaning work. Crews must be aware of their presence to both protect themselves as well as anyone else that may be in the work area and impact safety.

Emergency Situations: At least one person on an active job site should have full training in basic first aid. All entryways and exits must be identified and an emergency evacuation plan must be in place. An emergency plan must be in place whenever working in earthquake-prone areas.

Types of Insurance Coverage
Employees of window washing companies face more potential risks than most other occupations. Even when all safety protocols are in place and followed to the letter, due to the inherent risky nature of high rise window cleaning, adequate insurance must be in place when cleaning building windows to protect workers, business owners and the public. Here is a breakdown of the most common types of window-cleaning coverage:

Bodily-Injury Coverage: A component of general-liability insurance, bodily injury insurance will cover members of the public or building workers who are injured during window-cleaning operations. Bodily-injury insurance will cover their medical and related expenses.

Property Damage: This covers damage to a customer’s property cause by window washers.

Completed Operations Coverage: This insurance covers liability if someone is harmed by a product or services that has been rendered. For example, if a worker used a cleaning solution that scratched the windows the owner could sue for damages.

Workers Compensation: This is standard coverage that will pay for any necessary medical care and associated costs and expenses if an employee is injured on the job.

In Conclusion, a high-rise window cleaning company should take all the necessary precautions to have their employees safe. Here at Window Cleaning Miami, we are licensed and certified high-rise window cleaners. Trust us to complete jobs on time and in a safe manner. Call us today!

The Pros and Cons of Cleaning Windows with Newspaper

Cleaning glass windows is the most tiresome chore and why many people avoid it. It is also the most challenging to master. Clean your windows wrong and you end up with smudges or streaks. However, doing it right can help brighten up a room. Sadly, the battle is often lost before it can begin just based on the type of cleaning material you use. We’ve all heard the old wives’ tail: newspaper used in home window cleaning. There are some that use newspaper in window cleaning for offices! But is it true? Let’s weigh in on the pros and cons of using newspaper for clean glass windows.

Pros of Using Newspaper to Clean Glass Windows:

Save a few bucks

If you want to live as frugal as possible or to tuck a few bucks away for a rainy day, the cost of newspaper is minimal at best. In many cases, if you know where to look, you can get your hands on it for no more than the time it takes to pick it up. Many places recycle newspaper and would be more than happy for you take a few bundles off their hands.

Easily Available

The worse feeling is when you head to the store only to find the item you needed is sold out. Newspaper is so readily available that you’re guaranteed to pick up a good stack in one trip. No special trips to a specific store, no ordering online or waiting on a shipment. If you use newspaper for window cleaning in offices, chances are you’ll find bulk newspaper just lying around near recycling bins by the dozens.

Scrub Away with Ink

Interestingly, window cleaning contractors believe that the ink on newspaper can help scrub away dust, dirt and small stains without harming the glass. The ink gives texture and can act like gentle sandpaper without scratching the glass. You won’t be able to get the same result with regular wash clothes or paper towels.

Streak Free

If you’ve spent time doing home window cleaning or window cleaning for offices, then you are well aware that using paper towels or clothes often leaves a streak behind. Also, depending on the brand, you might find lint left behind that requires another wipe down. It almost becomes an endless cycle leaving you with spotty, streaky glass to look at. Newspaper doesn’t have that problem. Most times just a bit of wiping and your glass is clear and lint-free!

Disposable and Recyclable

Unlike clothes that require rewashing, newspaper can go right into the trash or—better yet—go into the recycling bin. So you can say goodbye to your rag washing days and save yourself some room in your washing machine. Not to mention saving on laundry detergent, electricity and dryer sheets.

Cons of Using Newspaper to Clean Glass Windows:

Limited Use

While newspaper is in abundance, you’ll need to keep a good stack if you plan to do all the windows in your home or office. When using cloth to clean a window, you have the option of rinsing and reusing. Unfortunately, newspaper does not have the same ability. Once newspaper is wet it will begin to break down and fall apart.

Ink Bleeds

Many times when you use newspaper to wash glass, you will notice some black (or perhaps other color) smudges appearing on your fingers or under your nails. As the newspaper starts to dissolve, some of the ink will begin to transfer to your hands. While the ink will not appear on the glass, it will appear on your skin. Often times the ink will remain on your skin for a few days or more. Some people have claimed luck with using rubbing alcohol to clean your hands, but this can leave your hands feeling dry. Fortunately, this con can be avoided by using rubber gloves while washing windows. However, be sure to watch for wooden frames since ink will stick to window frames and is not easy to remove.

Ultimately, the use of newspaper to clear home or office windows will depend on you. You might want to consider the kind of windows you’ll be working on and the number of windows that need washing. If you still find yourself on the fence with your decision, newspaper is so easy to come by so it doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Comparing the two results and seeing if newspaper provides you with the results you want costs nothing more than your time.