The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act requires employers to ensure that their employees are as safe as is practical depending on the environment. For window cleaners, this means that not only do employees need to receive the appropriate training for working at heights, but they also must be provided with adequate safety equipment to ensure the activities they complete do not expose them to high levels of risk. We’re going to take a look at the safety equipment that every window cleaner needs in this article.
Portable ladders are the traditional method of reaching heights and are often used by residential window cleaners. However, prior to beginning a job, it is important to ensure that the ladder is both suitable for the work, and in a good condition – it doesn’t have any defects, for example. Most accidents involving ladders happen because the ladder has not been placed in a sturdy position. Employee training which explains how to carefully consider the environment and know where to place the ladder is key to avoiding these.
Fall Arrest Equipment
Anyone working at height needs to be provided with fall arrest equipment in order to complete the job safely. The most common piece of equipment used is a safety harness that has been specifically designed for the job. This should fit the employee, and be connected to a suitable anchor point via an energy-absorbing lanyard. As with the ladders, fall arrest equipment must be visually expected and tested to ensure it is in good working condition on a regular basis, as well as after a fall occurs. Anchor points should also be tested.
Personal Protective Equipment
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is most often associated with construction and factory workers, however it’s something that window cleaners need to use as well. A lot of items fall under this remit, but the most important ones for window cleaners are protective clothing and footwear, gloves, hard hats and safety helmets, and high visibility clothing. Employees must be fully trained in why they need to use this equipment, and how to use it correctly, and as an employer you need to ensure that they are dressed appropriately for every job.
Have a Safety Plan in Place
Finally, while it isn’t a specific piece of equipment, it is vital that employers have a safety plan in place for their employees. You need to, for example, know how to rescue an employer who has fallen while using fall arrest equipment, as opposed to just waiting for the emergency services to arrive. Risk assessments should also be completed periodically and be taken by the employees before a new job begins. Managing agents, employers, and contractors should all be aware of the safety protocols to follow and the steps to take should something happen. While working at height cannot be avoided when you work as a window cleaner, having the appropriate safety equipment and following safety procedures can help to eliminate risk.
Here at Browns, we pride ourselves on maintaining a huge range of ladders and access equipment, both for homeowners and a variety of other tradesmen and professionals, including window cleaners. Feel free to browse our full range of ladders here, or give us a call on 01282 615 517, and we’ll see what we can do to help!