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Lawyer Blog: Baltimore, MD

Extra Clean? Extra Safety Needed

Window Washer

It’s no secret why Window Safety Week happens in early April; this year it’s April 3-9. When “spring has sprung” after a long winter, we itch to throw open the windows and invite the fresh air inside. It’s also a time when homeowners and businesses alike become aware of dirty windows and long for a little deep cleaning. Washing your own windows isn’t terribly risky if you can do most of it without ladders. But it’s a different story if window-washing involves suspended scaffolding, ropes, and multi-floored buildings. Can you imagine doing it for a living?

Window Washing: The Job

Working as a window washer appears to be a daredevil’s undertaking. Dozens of stories in the air, standing on narrow planks: you’d certainly need a lack of fear of heights to be successful at the job. It’s not quite as dangerous as it looks. Window cleaning is not on the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health’s (NIOSH) list of the top 100 most dangerous occupations.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. To clean windows commercially means using scaffolding. In terms of safety violations, scaffolding is part of a category that ranks third with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) for citations. The number of deaths involving scaffolding was 57 in 2012, but it doesn’t end there; thousands of workers are injured in scaffolding accidents each year. It’s no secret or surprise that many injuries end up disabling workers.

Window cleaning is not a well-regulated industry, and workers do not have to be certified to do the job. That can mean workers are not trained and don’t know how to conduct themselves on scaffolding, creating a dangerous situation for themselves, for their coworkers, and even for people on the ground. Someone who does not know how to use equipment such as levelers and stabilizers can create problems as well. On top of the lack of training, workers are often poorly paid to take such risks, starting out at as little as $12 per hour.

A Sad Tally

Safety hooks and other equipment can fail. A sudden gust of wind can play havoc. When you add these potential hazards to a lack of training and a lack of knowledge of safety equipment, you can readily see why disaster can strike. Consider these recent window washing incidents, all of which happened in the past eight months:

  • September, 2015: A window washer fell to his death in Tacoma, Washington, tumbling ten stories.
  • August, 2015: A window washer was critically hurt in Chicago after falling six stories from scaffolding.
  • January, 2016: While thankfully no one was hurt, two workers in Houston dangled off the tallest building in Texas when equipment malfunctioned.
  • February, 2016: Two window washers in New York City were trapped on scaffolding 62 floors above the ground. Again, thankfully, no one was hurt, though doubtless it was extremely frightening for the workers.

At the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler, we believe that every worker matters. Better training, equipment, and safety protocols are called for to keep those who do such high-risk work safe.

Do You Think You Have a Case?

Employers, businesses and managers have a responsibility to ensure proper training and as safe a work environment as possible, in accordance with all regulations. Unfortunately, equipment malfunctions, co-worker negligence, and bad decisions can place workers at risk. Steve Heisler has devoted 25 years to helping injured people and their families pursue compensation from those who caused them to be injured. Steve approaches each case with compassion and thorough investigation, leaving no stone unturned in his goal of obtaining justice for persons harmed by the actions or inactions of negligent employers, manufacturers and sub-contractors. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a scaffolding or other work-related accident anywhere in Maryland, call the Baltimore injury lawyers of the Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler today at (410) 625-4878, or use our online contact form. The initial consultation is always free.