As the Office for Occupational Health and Safety says, window washing is not a profession that many people think about when it comes to dangerous jobs. However, working on high rises can prove injurious.
Of course, many building owners, window washers and their supervisors undertake careful steps to stay safe, but skipping just one can result in an injury for life.
Extensive training and a culture of safety
First things first: Your employer or your own window washing operation must prioritize safety at all costs. Safety means that a project has to be delayed? So be it. Safety means that a project goes in over estimate? So be it. Safety means waiting to work until the weather improves? So be it.
Unfortunately, some employers cut corners, perhaps not training new window washers well so that the company can rush and meet a deadline or maintaining loose protocols around drugs and alcohol.
A culture of safety should also safeguard against complacency. For example, when you have worked as a window washer for 10 years without an accident, it is easy to let down your guard and forget to check that everything works correctly or to improperly secure yourself.
Full understanding of medical limitations
Window washers must meet certain standards of health. If washers have or develop conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes, restricted limb function or mental illness, they might not belong in a window washing job.
Use of safety anchors and rope access kit
Window washers use safety anchors to help them get up and down buildings. These anchors should be able to support 5,000 pounds per worker in any direction and meet other standards.
A rope access kit includes a helmet, chest harness, work harness and descender, among other tools. Window washers should know how and when to use each item properly.
Going back to promoting a culture of safety, window washers should feel like talking to their employers about safety concerns is easy. They should feel like their employers will hear and address their concerns, not ignore or ridicule them.