Window cleaning professionals encounter risks day in and day out, including falls, electrocution, extreme weather conditions and chemical exposure. Although falls are among the most common incidents resulting in injury or death within the industry, other potential risks, such as neck and back strain, must be addressed on a daily basis.
Skweeky Kleen Windows is family-based residential and commercial window cleaning business with five employees, and the team values building relationships with their clients by giving them the highest quality of service possible.
The team at Skweeky Kleen Windows began noticing that their everyday movements were having negative effects on their bodies and their level of service. They knew they needed to find a solution to prevent unnecessary, avoidable injuries.
“That’s okay to do that for an hour or two,” Simon Rabjohns, owner of Skweeky Kleen Windows said. “But you can imagine—if you’re doing that eight hours a day, five days a week, for months and years on end– the toll that would take on your body.”
Window cleaners spend a lot of time washing windows at great heights. When possible, the Skweeky Kleen Windows team chooses to clean upward using water-fed poles to avoid being suspended in the air. Although these poles avert fall risks, workers still face neck, back and shoulder strain resulting from repetitive and prolonged movements.
A surprising solution
To help reduce the amount of strain caused by looking upwards for long periods of time, the Skweeky Kleen Windows team began using prism glasses. Prism glasses refract light differently than normal optical lenses, allowing workers to view their work areas without having to move their necks.
“The prism bends the light through 90 degrees,” Rabjohns said. “So, when you’re working at height, that allows you to be basically looking straight while looking vertically.”
The prism glasses the Skweeky Kleen team uses are a form of belay spectacles. They’re widely used in the rock climbing industry. Dentists and other healthcare professionals also use prism glasses.
An effective job hazard analysis led Skweeky Kleen to start using the spectacles. They have greatly reduced the amount of strain on the team.
Job hazard analysis is one of the most important assessments to do before performing a high-risk job. By identifying potential hazards before working, employers can initiate proper job procedures and use the appropriate amount of time to train employees to perform the job in the safest way possible, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
“We try to employ every kind of technology that is available to reduce the strain on our bodies and avoid injury, and allow us a longer and healthier working life,” Rabjohns said.
Improve your workplace ergonomics
The window cleaning industry is not the only line of work that benefits from adaptations in the workplace. Ergonomics, or adapting the work environment to workers’ physical needs, is necessary in virtually every industry that involves repetitive and extensive movements. This is the case for workers in the manufacturing, healthcare and retail industries as they may be on their feet and in motion throughout their shifts. Helpful ergonomic resources include safe lifting tips, simple stretching exercises and the 20/20/20 rule.
Ready to take the next step to improve safety in your workplace? Check out our resource library.