As a window cleaner, you know all about working at high places and the risks that come with them.

But have you ever thought about how important it is to protect yourself from falling? It is not only the law, but also a matter of life and death.

In this article, I’ll talk about why fall protection is important for window cleaners and give you the information and tools you need to stay safe on the job.

So fasten your seatbelts (or strap in) and let’s jump in!

Understanding Fall Protection in Window Cleaning

Window Cleaning Fall Protection: Ensuring Worker Safety

Cleaning windows is a dangerous job that requires fall protection equipment to keep workers safe.

Falls are the biggest risk for window cleaners and anyone else who works on the outside of a building.

Even a two-story building is six feet above a flat surface, which is the height at which OSHA requires workers to wear fall protection gear.

So, fall protection is important to make sure workers are safe.

Types of Fall Protection Equipment

Full-body harnesses, perimeter guarding, lanyards, fall restraint systems, rope grabs, warning line systems, life lines, and fall arrest systems are all ways to protect against falls.

Most of the time, rope descent systems, window washing anchors, full-body harnesses, shock-absorbing lanyards, and anchorage points are used to protect window cleaners from falling.

Rope Descent Systems

Window cleaners often use rope descent systems, which are made up of an anchor point on the roof, a support rope, a descent device, a carabiner or shackle, and a chair.

With this system, workers can get down from the roof while staying attached to the building.

Window Washing Anchors

Window washing anchors are used to keep building maintenance workers safe.

They can be portable, non-penetrating, deadweight anchor systems that can be used on flat roofs or structures.

These anchors give workers a safe place to hook up their equipment to keep them from falling.

Full-Body Harnesses, Shock-Absorbing Lanyards, and Anchorage Points

For fall protection, you also need full-body harnesses, lanyards that can absorb shock, and anchorage points.

A full-body harness spreads the force of a fall over the whole body, making it less likely that someone will get hurt.

Shock-absorbing lanyards are made to take some of the force of a fall and use it to soften the blow to the body.

Anchorage points are used to attach fall protection equipment to the building.

Comprehensive Fall Prevention Strategy

For suspended access to be safe and OSHA-compliant, a comprehensive fall prevention strategy must be put in place.

This includes the right mix of window washing fall protection equipment, a rescue and descent plan, training for staff, and a partnership with a fall protection company that understands the unique nature of your facility’s access points and potential fall hazards.

Training and Preparation

When it comes to preventing falls in the window cleaning business, training is very important.

Before work starts, the first step in fall protection is to look at the site and the building to see what dangers are there and how to prepare for them.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) and fall protection equipment are both things that window cleaners should have.

Building owners must let the maintenance contractor know that inspectors have looked at and tested any equipment that has been put on hold.

Inspecting and Maintaining Fall Protection Equipment

Fall Protection for Window Cleaning: Ensuring Safety at Heights

Working up high can be dangerous, especially for people who clean windows and could fall.

For the safety of workers, fall protection equipment is a must.

But just having the equipment isn’t enough.

It needs to be inspected and maintained regularly to make sure it’s in good shape and can protect workers from falling.

Inspection and Maintenance of Fall Protection Equipment

According to OSHA, fall protection equipment should be inspected before each use and at least once a year by a jobsite Competent Person.

ANSI Z359 tells people what to look for when inspecting equipment used to keep people from falling.

The inspection should be done by a person with the right credentials and training who knows what to look for.

Before each use, the harness should be checked by hand during the inspection.

The inspector should look for stitching that is broken, burned, or pulled, as well as stitching or rivets at the points where hardware is attached.

All webbing, belt ends, buckles, and D-Rings should be closely examined.

The inspector should also look for signs of wear and tear, impact loading, loose threads, pulled rivets, burns, cuts, abrasions, and other problems.

All broken or worn out equipment should be thrown away and replaced.

It should never be used again because it could hurt or kill someone.

Proper Storage and Maintenance of Fall Protection Equipment

Fall protection gear can get worn out or broken if it is used a lot or is exposed to harsh conditions.

It can also get worse if it is stored in an unsuitable place with mildew, bugs, and other things that can hurt it.

So, it’s important to take care of, store, and protect fall protection gear the right way.

Maintenance, storage, and cleaning of the equipment should be done according to what the manufacturer says to do.

The manufacturer should be contacted if there are any questions or concerns about how long the product will last or how to store, maintain, or clean it.

OSHA Regulations for Fall Protection in Window Cleaning

When cleaning windows, OSHA has rules about how to keep people from falling out of windows.

OSHA 1910.27(b)(2)(xii) says that employers must make sure that equipment is kept from falling by using a tool lanyard or a similar method.

A rope descent system (RDS) is what OSHA 1910.27(b) calls a suspension system that lets a worker go down in a controlled way and stop at any time.

The RDS usually has a roof anchor, a support rope, a descent device, carabiner(s) or shackle(s), and a chair (seatboard).

Employers must give their workers a separate anchor for fall arrest, rope padding, and a way to get help quickly.

The International Window Cleaning Association’s ANSI/IWCA I-14.1-2001 standard is based on the guidelines in the 1991 memorandum. The rules in these documents are now part of OSHA 1910.27. (Scaffolds and Rope Descent Systems).

OSHA inspection rules say that a window washing consultant must check anchorages every time they are used.

Building owners must let the maintenance contractor know that inspectors have looked at and tested any equipment that has been put on hold.

In general industry, OSHA requires fall protection at heights of four feet, five feet in shipyards, six feet in the construction industry, and eight feet in longshoring operations.

Employers must make sure that there are no known risks in the workplace.

On some jobs, you may also need a safety harness and line, a safety net, stair railings, and handrails to protect yourself from falling.

Window cleaners who work at heights need safety gear to keep them from falling.

Fall protection equipment needs to be checked and maintained regularly to make sure it is in good shape and can protect workers from falls.

Employers who hire people to clean windows must follow OSHA rules about fall protection and provide a safe place to work.

By taking these steps, we can make sure that workers at heights are safe.

Scaffolding: A Crucial Component of Fall Protection for Window Cleaning

When it comes to window cleaning, safety should always be a top priority.

One of the most important aspects of fall protection is the use of scaffolding.

Scaffolding provides a stable and secure platform for workers to perform their tasks at height.

It also allows for easy access to hard-to-reach areas, such as high-rise buildings.

Scaffolding can be customized to fit the specific needs of the job, and can be erected quickly and efficiently.

It is important to ensure that scaffolding is properly installed and inspected before use, and that workers are trained in its use and safety procedures.

By incorporating scaffolding into fall protection plans, window cleaning companies can ensure the safety of their workers and provide high-quality services to their clients.

For more information:

Scaffolding for Window Cleaning: Safety, Types, and Benefits

Preventing Hazards in Window Cleaning

Window Cleaning: Staying Safe on the Job

Cleaning windows is a dangerous job, especially when you have to work on tall buildings.

Most of the time, window cleaners fall, which can cause serious injuries or even death.

Window cleaners have to do a few things to keep from falling.

Fall Protection

Window cleaners have to wear harnesses and keep all of their tools on them at all times.

To stop falls, you also need edge protection, like guardrails or holes.

Ladders are often used to clean windows, but they are dangerous and shouldn’t be used unless you have to.

Chemical Exposure

Window cleaners are also exposed to chemicals that can irritate their skin or make it hard for them to breathe.

Window cleaners must wear gloves, eye protection, and respirators, among other things, to protect themselves from getting sick.

Proper training can also help reduce the chance of making mistakes, like mixing or using chemicals in the wrong way, which can cause damage to property or harm to people.

Training and Best Practices

To keep them and the rest of the public safe, window cleaners need to be properly trained on how to prevent falls and stay safe.

Employers must come up with and provide a safe way to clean windows so that workers and the public can stay safe and healthy.

Employers must make sure that the equipment is properly inspected and maintained before it is used, and that employees are trained in a language they fully understand.

The International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) has a Safety Training Program that covers a wide range of safety topics and goes above and beyond what OSHA requires.

The program covers things like how to stay safe on a ladder, how to use ropes to get down, how to set up a structure correctly, and how to save people.

Building owners must let the maintenance contractor know that inspectors have looked at and tested any equipment that has been put on hold.

Before every use, a window washing consultant must check the anchorages, and companies that expect their workers to do work in high places must make sure that the anchorages are checked again at regular intervals.

The IWCA Safety Training Program goes over all of these topics and more, giving professional training for the window cleaning business.

Emergency Situations and Anchor Points

Rescue Plan

In case of an emergency, it’s important to have a plan for getting help.

There are different kinds of rescue plans, such as self-rescue and fixed lower rescue.

When cleaning windows, it is also important to let the people who live or work in the building know.

This helps keep people safe from things like falling equipment and wet floors.

Types of Window Cleaning Operations

There are two main ways to clean windows: work on the ground and work in the air.

Ground crews clean windows by getting to them from the ground.

Suspended crews clean windows from a platform in the air or by lowering themselves down the side of a building.

Depending on the type of job, workers may face different risks to their health and safety.

Personal Protective Gear

Window cleaners need to wear protective gear because they may be exposed to chemicals used to clean windows.

They have to wear the right safety gear, like gloves, goggles, and maybe even a respirator, depending on what chemicals are being used on the job.

A helmet helps protect workers from things that might fall on them.

Fall Protection

Falls are the biggest risk for commercial window cleaners, and the risk goes up for crews that work on high-rise buildings.

When working on surfaces without proper edge protection, you are most likely to fall.

Anchor points must be set up and taken care of correctly for fall protection equipment to work.

Anchor points are the most important part of a fall protection system.

Each person attached to an anchor point must be able to hold at least 5,000 pounds.

Anchor Points

Anchor points can be either fixed or not-penetrating, and each has its own pros and cons.

Fixed anchor points are carefully chosen because they don’t come in one size and have to be put on stable structures above the work site.

Non-penetrating systems can only be used on surfaces that are mostly flat, so sloped surfaces will probably need active fall protection systems.

Horizontal components can be used when anchor extensions like lanyards aren’t long enough to get you to where you need to be.

Installation and Maintenance

To install and keep anchor points in good shape, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and check them often for signs of damage or wear.

Before each use, you should check the anchor points and connecting devices and replace them if there are any signs of wear or damage.

By making fall protection anchorage a continuous process, workers can make sure that the anchor points and connecting devices are always in good shape and ready to protect them if they fall.

Site-Specific Service and Emergency Recovery Plan

Window cleaners should have both a rescue plan and a site-specific service and emergency recovery plan for window-cleaning operations.

This plan should include training for workers on how to take care of and fix equipment properly, as well as a review of the manufacturer’s instructions for how to use equipment correctly.

Before they start cleaning, workers should also check the area to be cleaned to make sure there are no places that could damage their fall protection gear or window-cleaning gear.

Window cleaning is a dangerous job that needs to be done the right way to avoid falls and other emergencies.

Window cleaners can make sure they stay safe on the job by following the tips in this article.

Remember to always wear safety gear, set up and take care of anchor points correctly, and have a plan for getting help in case of an emergency.

Best Practices for Working at Heights

Best Practices for Fall Protection during Window Cleaning

Here are some of the best ways to avoid falling out of a window while cleaning it:

  • Avoid working at height where possible: Telescopic water-fed poles or cleaning windows from the inside can be used instead of working at height.
  • Provide suitable access equipment: If working at height is unavoidable, suitable access equipment should be provided. The equipment should be properly inspected and maintained before use, and employees should be properly trained in a language they fully understand.
  • Use appropriate ladders: When using ladders, window cleaners should ensure that the ladder is appropriate for the job and that the recommended working loads are not exceeded. The height of the ladder should also be appropriate for the job. Window cleaners should face the ladder at all times when going up and down and should always have one hand on the ladder or other secure handhold and both feet on the ladder at all times when working from the ladder.
  • Wear appropriate protective gear: When working from elevated scaffolding or suspended from the top of a building, workers should wear appropriate protective gear, such as gloves, eye protection, and possibly respirators, depending on what chemicals are being used. Workers should also be aware of the presence of others, such as building occupants, co-workers, and members of the public, to protect themselves and others.

Building Owners and Managers’ Responsibilities

By taking a few steps, building owners and managers can make sure that window cleaners follow proper fall protection and safety rules:

  • Provide documentation: Building owners should provide documentation to their window cleaning contractor that covers the areas of concern, such as permanent window-cleaning equipment installed on buildings such as powered platforms, a copy of the maintenance.
  • Responsibility for permanent equipment or structure: The property manager is responsible for the building and any or all permanent equipment or structure that the contractor may use.
  • Ongoing testing and certification: Building managers are responsible for ongoing testing and certification of rooftop anchorages for window washers.
  • Ensure anchorage meets OSHA requirements: Building owners must ensure that each anchorage meets the requirements of OSHA 1910.27 (Scaffolds and Rope Descent Systems).
  • Ensure proper training: Building owners should ensure that in-house staff who perform window washing tasks are well-versed in the proper use of fall protection equipment and safety procedures.

Prevention through Design

The new American National Standard calls for building owners and managers to follow a new standard called “Prevention through Design” to make sure their buildings are safe places to work.

Professional window cleaners should make a written work plan that includes things like equipment, training, and an assessment of the job site.

This will help prevent accidents and injuries on the job.

Accidents can be avoided if you plan ahead, and if you don’t plan, you’re planning to fail.

Building owners and managers should also make sure that window cleaners know how to use and check RDS, have a separate anchor for fall arrest and rope padding, and have a way to get help quickly.


In the end, fall protection is an important part of cleaning windows safely.

To keep accidents and injuries from happening, it is very important to take all the necessary precautions.

But it is also important to think about what cleaning windows does to the environment.

By using eco-friendly cleaning products and methods, the carbon footprint of window cleaning can be cut down by a large amount.

Also, we should think about how cleaning windows affects the mental health of the people who do it.

Window cleaning can be a stressful and dangerous job, so it’s important to give workers the support and tools they need to stay healthy.

In the end, it’s important to remember that cleaning windows isn’t just about keeping them clean and shiny.

It is about making sure that the workers are safe, protecting the environment, and making sure that the cleaners are happy and healthy.

So, the next time you hire a window cleaning service, be sure to ask about their safety measures, how they treat the environment, and what they do to help their workers.

At the end of the day, a clean window is not worth putting someone’s life at risk or hurting the environment.

Looking for a new Magnetic window cleaner?

Choosing a gadget can be very difficult if you know nothing about the technology.

Some will pay for features they do not need while others may not consider what they really want.

So I created this quick, newbie guide to help you focus on what is really important to you:

The Best Magnetic Window Cleaner (For You!)

Links and references

  1. 1. The Window Cleaning Business book
  2. 2. Cal/OSHA Pocket Guide for the Construction Industry
  3. 3. PennDOT Daily Safety Talk Book
  4. 4. AFMAN 91-203 Air Force Occupational Safety
  5. 5. National Weather Service Manual 50-1115

My article on the topic:

Safe Window Cleaning: Hazards, Equipment & Best Practices