Everyone loves a clean window and for that reason, window cleaning services are still important in today’s society but despite how far we’ve come, this long-standing profession still comes with its risks and mistakes that should be avoided. From falls and trips to property damage or personal injury, something as seemingly simple as cleaning a window can be a risky business. However, with the right health and safety measures, knowledge and insurance cover, you can better prepare for your next job. Here are some of the most common risks and mistakes to watch out for:
The Risk of Falls
Whether you’re using ladders, suspended platforms, ropes or a different kind of access form, the risk of falls remains one that most window cleaners fear. The slightest imbalance on a ladder or if it were to break, could lead to you tipping or falling, causing life-threatening injuries depending on the distance that you may ultimately fall. As one of the most common and ultimately most dangerous risks, it’s important that all window cleaners and their employees take care and implement measures to reduce these risks, including fall-arrest harnesses, safety lines and securing the ladder more effectively. during operation.
The Risk of Slipping or Tripping
Trips are a common risk in any business and window cleaning is no exception. From tripping over ladders and buckets to slipping on spilt water or chemicals, these risks can result in a number of consequences depending on the severity. They aren’t just limited to the window cleaners themselves – slips and trips are still very much a risk for any members of the public walking by, which is why every window cleaning business should have adequate public liability insurance to ensure that they, and the public, are covered in the case of a slip or a trip over your equipment.
The Risk of Property Damage
Scratches, chemical reactions and even water damage can all occur as a result of window cleaning if an accident were to happen or the wrong tools were to be used. Adequate training can help to reduce the risk of mistakes such as incorrect chemical mixing or use, scratches on the window and other damage options If a person’s property is damaged as a result of your work, you need to have the right insurance in place to ensure that you, your business and your client’s property is covered in the case of a claim.
The Risk of Repetitive Strain Injuries
As with any job requiring regular movements, repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a risk worth considering for window cleaners. RSI can manifest in pains in the wrists and elbows, neck pain, back pain, numbness and tingling in the fingertips and even joint or tendon swelling depending on the severity. Shoulder pains are also commonly reported by window cleaners, even earning the title “window cleaners shoulder”. Time pressure, outdoor working, height work, technique, the weight of tools, posture and even excessive reach can also play a part in RSI and so it’s important to make changes where needed to prevent a recurrence.
Using The Wrong Access Type
The style and height of the building can affect which type of access you need in order to safely and securely reach the windows you need to clean. For this reason, using the wrong type can cause more trouble than it solves. Risk assessments should be conducted prior to working on any building, and the right access chosen. Even the right access can have its risks, however. For example:
- Travelling Ladders and Gantries – Risks include falls, broken glass, overloading equipment, rushed job injuries
- Standard Ladders – Risks include falls, slips, trips and strain from overreaching
- Rope Access – Risks include inadequate PPE, falls, injuries from rushing the job
- SAE Equipment – Risks include falls, poor weather, overloading equipment, injuries from rushed jobs or inadequate PPE.
Having The Wrong Insurance
One problem that window cleaners may come across is not having the right insurance to cover the risks and potential problems they may come across. Accidents happen to both employees and to the general public, and having the right window cleaner insurance cover can provide you with the financial protection you need in the case that a claim is made.
Employer’s Liability Insurance is a legal requirement for any business with employees, and so you should always ensure that the policy is up to date and you have the best one available, while public liability insurance can ensure members of the public and in some cases, their property, is protected too. You could also consider tools cover for financial support in the case of drops, theft and other unintentional breakages.
For more information about the insurance cover, you may need to protect yourself against the consequences, feel free to contact a member of our team here at Ashburnham Insurance today.