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Window cleaners face peril15th of April 2014
The dangers of window cleaning have been highlighted in a recent spate of accidents in the UK and on the North American continent.
Toronto firefighters were called out in March to help a stranded window cleaner whose hair had become caught in a descending rope line.
The unnamed woman was suspended by her hair outside the windows of a downtown building. Firefighters managed to free her by breaking a window and untangling her hair from the line. She was unharmed.
This followed an incident in the UK when a window cleaner had to be airlifted to hospital after falling from a ladder through a conservatory roof. Robin Salkeld was cleaning an upstairs window of a house in Bristol when the accident occurred. He fell to a stone floor and sustained serious injuries.
And in a horrific accident in the US in December 2013, a window cleaner plummeted 47 storeys from the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper. Miraculously, Alcides Moreno survived the fall and sustained only minor injuries. It is believed he may have clung to the scaffolding platform as it fell and that this may have offered him some protection.
Scores of window cleaning accidents and even deaths are reported every year, usually as a result of falling from height. The Work at Height Regulations 2005 alleviated the problem to some extent by stipulating that if a high-rise task could reasonably be carried out from the ground,that is how it should be done. But this is impractical when cleaning high-rise buildings.
In recent polls, skyscraper window-cleaning was declared to be the most dangerous job in the UK and the fourth most dangerous in Australia after fishing, mining and lorry driving. However window cleaning does not even appear in the US top five where the most perilous jobs are considered to be logging, fishing, flight engineering, roofing and working in the steel industry.