A brief demonstration of the Unger nLite brush for water fed poles.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is an evaluation of risks and consequences involved in carrying out a certain task and what controls you will put in place to minimize the risks.
You carry out a risk assessment every time you cross the road, pull out at a junction or set up your pole or ladders.
Obviously to cross the road you don’t need to write a risk assessment! The situation and hence the risk assessment is dynamic and changes continuously. However, the same principle of evaluating the risks involved and coming to conclusions as to the course of action required provide the basis for creating a risk assessment.
Why Carry Out a Risk Assessment?
Risk assessment is not an option. It is a requirement of the management of health and safety at work regulations 1999. Serious problems can arise if an accident occurs and no risk assessment has been carried out. This is particularly true if you have employees.
Many commercial customers may request that you provide a written risk assessment, but even if they don’t, it’s good commercial practice to provide one. It will enhance the customers esteem for you as a professional and more than that it will protect you from and your business from criminal and civil court action. Obviously the main benefit of working in harmony with the findings of a risk assessment is that you and your employees will be safer at work.
How Do I Carry Out A Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment therefore must be specific to the site involved. It’s no good just copying one already prepared because the risks may be different. Risk assessment boils down to basic common sense. Documenting the findings of a risk assessment need not be overly complicates. The health and safety template kit shown above includes an example risk assessment and forms which make documenting a risk assessment very simple. However, if you wish to create your own, here are some guidelines as what it should include.
There are 5 stages in carrying out a risk assessment.
1. Identify the hazards involved.
The first step in assessing risk is obviously to identify the potential hazards.
Write a list of all the potential hazards that you can think of related to each particular task.
2. Decide who is at risk and how.
Next to each risk on your list, jot down who is at risk and how. eg. is it the person working or is it the general public? Why are they at particular risk?
3. Evaluate the risks and decide on what precautions are necessary.
This is where you need to decide how great the risk is. If the risk is high then something should be done to minimise the risk before work continues. These preventative measures are called controls. What controls are in place to reduce the risk?
To evaluate the risk first ask yourself how likely is it that an accident will occur as a result of the identified risks for each task. Using a system of scoring from 1 – 5 is a common way system of evaluation. The higher the number, the higher the likelihood and therefore the greater the risk. For example:
1 = Remote. (Very unlikely to happen)
2 = Unlikely. (May happen on rare occasions)
3 = Likely. (May happen once a year)
4 = Very likely. (Could occur several times a year)
5 = Certain. (Sure to happen at any time)
Now that we have an idea of how likely an accident is as a result of the risk, we need to determine what kind of consequences would result from the potential accident.
1 = Minor Injury
2 = Incapacity to work
3 = Major Injury
4 = Fatality
5 = Multiple fatality
The risk can now be evaluated by using the formula shown below:
Risk Evaluation = Likelihood x Consequences
By evaluating the severity of the risk we can decide what controls, if any need to be put in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
1 – 5 = Very Low. (No further action required)
5 – 10 = Low. (Controls to minimise risk should be monitored)
10 – 15 = Medium (Controls must be put in place to reduce risk)
15 – 20 = High. (Urgent action is required to reduce risk)
20 – 25 = Very High. (Work should cease until the risk has been reduced)
Control measures could involve the following:
Elimination. (eg. risk of fall from height from ladder: Using a water fed pole instead of ladders)
Substitution. (eg. risk of fall from height: Using a MEWP rather than portable ladders)
Reduction. (eg. risk of falling from ladder: Using a ladder stability device)
Isolation (eg. using MEWP in front of a hotel: Isolate area with barriers or tape)
Procedure (eg. trip hazzard from trailing hoses in front of hotel entrance: Use safety signs)
PPE -Personal Protective Equipment (eg. using MEWP at height: Wear a harness in cradle)
Discipline (eg. has adequate training been given?)
4. Record your findings and put them into practise.
Your findings should now be documented and more importantly you will need to act in harmony with the findings of your risk assessment by putting the necessary controls in place.
A risk assessment template showing various common hazards and risks involved with window cleaning thatyou can use to adapt to be site specific is available to download.
5. Review the risk assessment regularly and update it if necessary.
Risk assessments need to be reviewed regularly. Set a date when you need to review it by. When you review the risk assessment look for changes in the working environment that affect the risk assessment. Are there new dangers? Are the ground conditions the same? Update the risk assessment accordingly.
Health and Safety Documents
Employers have many responsibilities. These documents make fulfilling them a little easier. Includes Risk Assessment and Method Statement templates and examples as well as various policies.
You’ll recognise him as Mike Howard formerly export manager at Brodex Machine Services, now heading up Facelift Cleaning Systems. Mike who has been given free rein to develop the brand, commented on his new role, ’Facelift has an excellent worldwide reputation, I can’t wait to push the new @ Facelift concept for window cleaners, it’s an absolute dream come true!!’
The new Facelift Cleaning Systems concept and products will have the backing and support network of Window Cleaning Warehouse, well known throughout the industry.
Steve Fox, MD at Facelift Cleaning Systems said, ‘After buying Facelift last year we have spent months on product development and needed the right guy on board to launch the exciting new range, Mike MASSIVELY fitted the bill’.
Owing to the greatly enhanced marketing opportunity offered by the Cleaning Show 2013, which is co-locating with the IMHX International Materials Handling Show, several traditional Carpex/Windex exhibitors have elected to use a greater percentage and in some cases all of their marketing budget for this event.
Visitor numbers at the Cleaning Show 2013 are expected to significantly increase thanks to the co-location with IMHX, making this an event that no serious supplier to the cleaning and allied markets can afford to miss.
Few companies wish to attend both Carpex/Windex and the Cleaning Show 2013, and as a consequence Carpex/Windex 2012 has been cancelled.
The next Carpex/Windex exhibition will therefore take place in 2014.
Studio Arts are the leading UK based web design company specialising in providing websites for window cleaning companies.
To view some of the website designs available you can visit their site by clicking the picture above or visit the Window Cleaning Services directory which is an exclusive directory of websites already designed for clients.
“Never clean windows in the sun!”
– That’s the advice given in many housekeeping magazines. But is it true?
For the general householder it is good advice, but a professional window cleaner cannot afford to be always dictated to by the weather.
Especially when using traditional methods, cleaning in the hot sun can cause problems so here are some tips to avoid the smears and shadows.
Shadows left on the window are caused by the solution drying before the squeegee blade can carry it away.
On overcast days you may soap up a few windows at a time and two or three minutes may pass before you squeegee them all clean. However, when the weather is warmer it is important to blade the window as soon as possible after it has been mopped to avoid leaving shadows and streaks. Here are a few tips for getting good results even when window cleaning in the sun;
1. Only wet as many windows as you blade before the water dries.
It is best just to soap up one or two windows at a time so that the solution does not have chance to dry. The two handed technique of mopping and blading simultaneously is good in this situation because the solution is carried away almost immediately and doesn’t get chance to dry.
2. Use combination tools
When using a tradtional pole combination tools such as the Unger Vice Versa, Ettore Back Flip or Wagtail Flipper will save time switching tools.
3. Use more water
The most obvious tip is to use more water. Wetting the window more will give you more time to blade it before the solution dries. If you are using a water fed pole then you should rarely encounter problems unless the windows are really hot. – In which case the answer is to just use more water
4. Use less soap
Another practical tip is to use less soap if you use washing up liquid. The solution tends to evapourate quicker if you use too much soap and you will be more likely to leave streaks.
5- Minimize detailing and use of cloths
Using a cloth on the window in the sun is a bad idea. The less you use a cloth on the window for detailing the better. Sometimes you can do more harm than good when detailing causing smears with a cloth that are more noticeable than the original mistake. Take care when using the squeegee to not miss bits in the middle of the window and practice your technique to minimize the amount of detailing necessary.
These tips should help you achieve good results when cleaning windows in the sun however, if non of the above work for you then use a water fed pole system with pure water!