Working in the Window Cleaning Industry
As the name implies, safety ladders are supposed to offer the maximum safety available in order to avoid accidents and falls. The economic cost of injuries and ill health in the UK totalled £13.8 billion in the year 2010 – 2011 with 60% of this coming from ill health rather than injuries. However, this still leaves the UK facing massive economic costs due to injuries although these costs have been steadily falling in recent years as the numbers of injuries have been falling. This fall in figures reflects the fact that safety in the workplace in the UK is steadily improving thanks to legislation that requires employers to ensure that workplace injuries are kept to a minimum.
Falling from a height is a particular risk in the window cleaning industry. Recent developments include notable progress in both the delivery and structure of training for window cleaning employees with a City and Guilds Level 2 Course being distributed to more than 1600 window cleaning employees to date. However, those who work within the industry still have concerns over safety and when it comes to establishing the appropriate safety controls; many employees feel that they do not receive the required support from the duty holders and management agents.
Those who hold responsibility for the management of window cleaning (particularly when working at height) need to take this on board. This means that there is still an urgent need for recognition that improvements need to be effected in risk management and the implementation of operational control changes. Major issues that need to be addressed are the lack of clarity about the legal obligations involved and the lack of training and related qualifications that would make it easier to implement effective and correct safety decisions.
There is a City and Guilds QCF Level 3 Qualification in ‘Understand, Planning, Supervising and Managing Work at Height’ available that has been designed to provide the training and assessment qualification for Management Agents, Building Management Employees and Principal Contractors. Window Cleaning Contractor Managers and Supervisors will find this course invaluable in providing clarification on the safety issues involved.
If we want to improve safety in the workplace in the UK, then paying the companies that provide the appropriate training in risk management is an essential step in moving towards this.
The UK Contract Cleaning Market is estimated to be worth nearly five billion pounds in the UK but has suffered a downturn in recent years. This means that contract cleaners are constantly under pressure to find ways of delivering a competitive quote in order to secure contracts. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to cut costs by neglecting safety issues. With safety training for management and operatives representing one of the largest costs, there is a temptation to neglect this. However, this really is a false economy – saving money by cutting down on training will only lead to more accidents at work, which will in turn lead to more ongoing costs in compensation and work days lost through injury.
Ensuring that the correct and appropriate training is delivered is the only way for the window cleaning industry to make progress in improving safety within the industry which will, in turn, lead to lower costs in the long term.