WINDOW CLEANING LAWS UK: Working at height is often unavoidable. In these cases it becomes necessary to plan and organise the task ahead of time.
Window cleaners need to consider all window cleaning health and safety guidelines for:
- The working conditions.
- Selecting the appropriate access equipment.
- Specialist protective equipment.
- Emergency evacuation and rescue procedures.
The guidelines fall under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 (HSW Act). The law requires:
“Employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees’. They must also ensure that those affected by their activities are not exposed to risk.”
Note: The window cleaning health and safety law also applies to those who are self-employed window cleaners if their work exposes other people to risk.
Work at Height Regulations
There are extra requirements in the Work at Height Regulations 2005. The law relates to employers as well as anyone who is in control of any work at height activity.
They must ensure the work is properly planned and supervised. Tasks must be undertaken by competent people. This also includes using the right type of equipment needed for working at height.
The law issues further guidelines when planning and organising window cleaning. The guidelines state you must avoid work at height where it is ‘reasonably‘ practicable to do so. That could mean you need to use a telescopic water fed pole or clean the windows from inside.
There will be some cases where you cannot avoid cleaning windows at height. In this situation you must consider using an existing safe place of work.
Cleaning them from the inside windows or from a safe balcony could meet the window cleaning laws. But, workers must provide all suitable access equipment for any tasks without an existing safe place to work from.
There may also be circumstances where you cannot eliminate the risk of falling. The UK window cleaning health and safety policy is clear.
You must take extra measures necessary to minimise the distance and consequences of any fall. This means using the right type of fall arrest equipment.
Discussing all window cleaning tasks with the client is important too. They will know knowledgeable about their business and the building design.
Both parties should work together to develop an agreed coordinated approach. This is an essential practice for reducing the risks.
Clients are usually aware of their building design and structure. They will know if it provides safe window cleaning access points from the inside. As a rule, that eliminates the risk of falling from height.
Anyone who is working at height must have the right skills for the job in hand. They need enough knowledge and working experience to carry out the task competently.
Thus, specific competences depend on the work undertaken. For example, some abseiling window cleaners need specialist skills and knowledge. These may be unnecessary for someone involved in cleaning windows on ground floors.
Window Cleaning Rules and Regulations
The United Kingdom does not demand any special education to work as a window cleaner. Even so, training is essential, especially if you will be using scaffolding equipment. You can find some excellent window cleaning training courses in the UK.
Note: You need a licence issued by the local council to be a window cleaner in Scotland.
Britain does not have a height restriction for working with water fed poles. The lack of governance on this rule is different than in many other European countries. But the United Kingdom does have restrictions on the use of ladders.
Window Cleaners Ladders and the Law
You cannot use ladders as a work platform on heights over 4 meters (13 feet). Ladders may only get used to secure your access to windows higher than four meters. This is the main reason why most window cleaners use water fed poles in the United Kingdom.
Water fed poles are ideal for reaching difficult areas to access. In most cases they will provide a safe reach up to a height of 20 meters (65 feet) from the ground.
Challenges of Window Cleaning Business
Windows get cleaned all over the world with some particularities in each country. The window cleaning market has its own individual demands and physical challenges.
The ever changing weather conditions are a national challenge for British window cleaners. This is particularly so for the cleaners of windows in residential buildings.
Adapting to the changing weather conditions, such as sun, rain, clouds, and fog, is a daily chore for some. The professionals in this trade need exact planning and bags of experience. Not to mention a high degree of flexibility.
Cleaning windows on commercial buildings also brings in its own set of challenges. There are many things to take into consideration to organise these type of schedules. As a rule this can involve:
- Co-ordinating the first viewing of a property.
- Making sure there is free access to the windows.
- Ensuring the entire surroundings are safe and secure.
All matters of health and safety in the workplace is a priority in the United Kingdom. The same is particularly true for professional window cleaners and their customers.
The architecture of modern buildings also adds to the increasing challenges. Glass surfaces are often high and difficult to access in most shopping centers. Older buildings also have their own special characteristics when it comes to cleaning. Examples might include many old school buildings and some universities.
There are several cleaning methods employed by British window cleaning professionals. The classic squeegee and scraper method is still popular today. For some, cleaning with pure water retains its tradition.
As a rule, it is the location that determines the selection for the method used. Traditional tools get used most in larger cities where access is difficult. Yet, pure water using water fed poles is a popular choice in rural areas.