How To Keep Window Cleaners Safe

by Alexis Munoz on August 5, 2011

Yesterday across the bay from where I live in San Francisco some professional window cleaners dangled 14 stories above their deaths, had they not been rescued by the local fire department. The following might seem astonishing:

Surely there must be some sort of state certification involved before you dangle off a highrise, saved only by your safety harness — right? Actually, no. Unlike, say,truck drivers, window cleaners are not regulated by the state. ‘You need to be trained by an experienced and competent window cleaner — a very detail-oriented person,’ says Trobaugh. You need to follow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and American National Standards Institute requirements. But you don’t need to take a course with an OSHA or ANSI instructor.

You can read the rest here.

It may seem like government regulation would be beneficial to avoid these types of accidents. However, the fact is that the accident seems to have occurred because the regulators didn’t do their job. They didn’t inspect the facility to certify it for safety, so that the job could get done without incident. And the only reason why these window cleaners are alive today is because of their expertise in harnessing themselves to safety as professionals that they are. This they learned to do from other tradesmen.

Consider this one from San Francisco:

The bottom line is that an apprenticeship is most valuable in teaching you how to do your job. Under the guidance of a master, who knows how to do the job better than you, you can learn to be safe and effective rather than rely on some bureaucrat to make it all safe for you.

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