Climbing ladders is risky!
Recently I was out canvassing for new customers in Huddersfield and one very nice lady asked me a couple of great questions, one of which I’d like to expand on here.
Her first question was, ‘where are your ladders?” Now that is a great question. As a professional window cleaner working in Huddersfield, I made the decision some time ago to build a cleaning method that never, needed me to climb ladders. Why’s that you ask, especially when you think about window cleaning as a profession because it wouldn’t and couldn’t have existed without ladders. Which is true, it’s also true that when my roof needed some work doing on it at home after a fierce gale, the insurance company put up scaffolding for the operators instead of using ladders which would have easily reached, because insurers understand, risk better than any individual. And ladders, working at height equals risk, especially if you are a lone worker as most window cleaning professionals are.
My safety, my colleagues and the public’s safety are, and I make no excuses for this, my number one priority. At the end of the day we all should be able to go home having worked in a safe environment. 37% of all reported workplace injuries were as a result of a slip, trip or fall, with 28% of all fatalities in the workplace being caused by a slip, trip or fall. On average 50 people die each year from a slip, trip or fall at work and a great many more are injured – some critically.
Have a look at this interesting article from the Daily Telegraph about a BBC Radio 2 programme hosted by Jeremy Vine, which talks to the very real challenge that window cleaners using ladders face and what you as the employer of someone operating unsafely on your premises on your behalf may face. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/9466514/Jeremy-Vne.html
Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“So this gentleman (the Policeman asked) – the deceased – did you know him?”
“No. Well, yes. Sort of.”
“Were you aware he was planning to erect a ladder on your kitchen roof and climb up to the third floor? Your daughter’s bedroom?”
“And yet you had paid him to clean that window. So how on earth, may I ask, did you think he was doing it?”
“Fair cop. My window cleaner has died and it’s all my fault”, was how the conversation could have gone!
Hot weather had loosened a piece of the customers roof, causing the window cleaners ladder to slip and nearly kill him. If he had died, the homeowner wouldn't have necessarily been held responsible, but!
Whilst the article is very much about what might have happened, the reality is that if people are working on your premises they have a duty to ensure they and you are safe, so ditching the ladder is a great start.
The Work at Height Regulations 2005 require employers and those in control of any work at height activity to ensure that the work is properly planned, supervised and carried out by competent people. This includes using the right type of equipment for working at height.
Getting to challenging windows at height across Huddersfield without using ladders is, easier now than it’s ever been.
Using water fed poles that extend beyond the second & third floor are available. Okay they are costlier than ladders and it may mean that you the customer may have to pay an extra £1 a clean. And as I said to the very nice lady who asked the question about why I didn’t have any ladders, ‘that’s because, I value my life, your property and your peace of mind and actually the water fed pole system actually does a better job’. She went inside and came back out with a smile and 2 cups of tea and the opportunity to clean her windows every 4 weeks.