Window cleaners must ensure they clean exterior windows safely to prevent injuring themselves and others. Here is how.
How to safely clean exterior windows
The most common window cleaning accidents are falls from height. To prevent such accidents, it is vital to use the right type of equipment and always work with utmost care.
Avoiding working at height
To prevent injuries from falling from a height, it is recommended to avoid working at height whenever possible by:
- Using water-fed telescopic poles
- Cleaning windows from the inside or
- Cleaning windows from a balcony
If none of these options are reasonably possible, suitable equipment to access and clean exterior windows at height must be provided.
Accessing windows at height
In many cases, use of a portable ladder is the most practical and sensible solution. To ensure it is safe to use a ladder to clean exterior windows, you must make sure the ladder is:
- Long enough to reach windows without over-stretching
- Strong and in good condition (i.e. no visible damage or defects)
- Positioned on firm, even ground and stable, so it cannot move while you are working on it
The Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) publication INDG455 provides helpful information on safely using ladders. For especially hard to reach windows, use of specialist equipment may be necessary (learn more).
Fall arrest equipment
The risk of falling from height must be minimised further by a provision of fall arrest equipment, which typically consists of safety harnesses connected to anchor points via energy-absorbing lanyards. This kind of equipment must be:
- Properly adjusted to fit wearers
- Maintained in safe condition
- Inspected regularly and replaced when necessary to prevent deterioration or damages causing accidents at work.
HSE publication INDG367 provides detailed guidance on how to properly inspect this type of equipment.
Personal protective equipment
Whenever the risk of injuries at work cannot be minimised in any other way, window cleaners must also be provided with personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes:
- Hard hats and/or safety helmets
- Protective footwear, gloves and high visibility clothing
Training in the correct use of fall arrest equipment, PPE and safe working procedures must also be provided.
Right to compensation
If you were injured while cleaning windows, you could be entitled to work injury compensation if you were not:
- Provided with the correct, well-maintained equipment
- Trained in the use of such equipment
Get helpful window cleaning injury advice by calling us, Accident Advice Helpline, on 0800 689 0500 (from Any UK landline) or 0333 500 0993 (from a mobile phone) now.
Date Published: May 2, 2017
Author: Accident Advice