Stay up to date with the industry best practices and the comprehensive
list of the major recognized safety hazards of professional window cleaning.
Stay Safe On The Job!
This guide is dedicated to providing up to date information on the major safety hazards that may be encountered during professional window cleaning.
Select your section below to learn more.
Through the OSHA and International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) Alliance, IWCA developed this
material for informational purposes only.
It does not necessarily reflect the official views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor.
The purpose of this field guide is to provide you with a list of the major recognized safety hazards which may be encountered during professional window cleaning. This field guide also provides some of the key best practices to address these hazards and help you stay safe on the job. Click on the links below to read more about each section.
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The purpose of this field guide is to provide you with a list of the major recognized safety hazards which may be encountered during professional window cleaning. This field guide also provides some of the key best practices to address these hazards and help you stay safe on the job.
Through the OSHA and International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) Alliance, IWCA developed this material for informational purposes only. It does not necessarily reflect the official views of OSHA or the U.S. Department of Labor.
Your employer must develop and provide a safe window cleaning operation to protect the safety and health of workers and the general public.
Regardless of what type of equipment and tools may be used on the job, your employer must ensure that the equipment is properly inspected and maintained before it gets used. The employer must also ensure that employees are properly trained in a language they fully understand.
Be sure to follow all manufacturers’ recommended guidelines for assembling, using, maintaining and inspecting any equipment used for cleaning windows.
The following are the major types of window cleaning operations. Depending on the type of operation, workers may be faced with different safety and health hazards. The window cleaning industry is segmented into two categories: ground work and suspended work. Ground crews clean windows by accessing them using ground-based equipment, including extension poles, water fed poles, ladders and aerial man lifts. Suspended workers are supported on the sides and off the roofs of buildings while cleaning.
One of the most important steps to keeping workers safe on the job is to perform a site assessment before starting work at a site. The site assessment should identify the safety and health hazards workers may encounter at a particular location. A sample job site evaluation and work plan can be found on the IWCA pdf.
This section identifies the major workplace hazards faced by window cleaning workers that should be evaluated as part of the site assessment. See the following sections for how to address those hazards.
The following are some of the hazards that the window cleaning contractor should review as part of the site assessment:
Professional window cleaning requires you to work outside much of the time. Be aware of things such as extreme temperatures, windy conditions, and inclement weather conditions.
Window cleaners may be exposed to a variety of chemicals in the cleaning products they use. Consider what chemicals you will be using and be sure that you are equipped with the necessary information and appropriate PPE.
Be aware of changes in elevation of walking or working surfaces that are greater than four feet in the work area and which are not protected by a guardrail or structure that is 42 inches or taller. These hazards may include things such as scaffolds, skylights, and different roof levels when working at elevated heights, and things such as retaining walls, balconies, and unprotected holes when working on the ground.
Be aware of the jobsite conditions under which you will be using a ladder, and be sure that the type of ladder that you are planning to use is appropriate for use under those conditions.
Be aware of the conditions of the surfaces on which you will be walking, regardless of whether the surface is elevated or on the ground, and be sure that you are aware of any conditions that could present a slip, trip, or fall hazard.
Be aware of the presence of exposed outlets, electrical fixtures, and power lines in the work area.
Consider the types of tools and equipment that you plan to use, and be sure that they are appropriate for use under the conditions present at the jobsite.
In most types of window cleaning work, occupants, co-workers, or other members of the public may be present at the job site. Be aware of how your work and work area may affect others, and make provisions to protect them from being negatively impacted by your work.
Workers in the window cleaning industry should wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses.
All PPE should be safely designed and constructed, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. It should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. When engineering, work practice, and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide PPE to their workers and ensure its proper use.
Employers are also required to train each worker
Before using any chemical for window cleaning and stain removal, you must understand the following:
Employ the following to protect building occupations, co-workers, and the public:
To protect yourself:
Falls are the top hazard faced by window cleaners. The primary fall hazard faced by ground crews is climbing ladders and using aerial lifts. Crews working on high-rise buildings of course face additional fall hazards.
For more information, see the sections below on Ground Access Equipment and Suspended Access Equipment.
A permanently installed powered platform is a suspended scaffold that has been engineered and designed and built to remain on the building on which it has been installed. Most of the guidelines in the swing stage section of this manual apply. In addition, further measures shall be taken where applicable.
There are two types of permanently installed powered platforms.
More workers area killed every year in motor vehicle crashes than any other cause. Distracted driving kills thousands of people every year.
Practice safe driving at all times. Do not browse apps, talk or text on your cell phone while driving. Use automated voice navigation systems when available. Avoid other distractions when driving.