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OSHA working with industry to prevent window washer falls

For the men and women who clean the windows on skyscrapers and other large buildings, falls are one of the most common sources of injury. As readers in Philadelphia know, any fall from a great height can cause very serious injuries that could lead to permanent disability or death. For this reason, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees worker safety, is teaming up with an industry group to spread the word about window washer safety.

OSHA and the International Window Cleaning Association recently announced that they were renewing their partnership on the issue for another two years. The IWCA represents the owners of more than 500 companies that employ more than 10,000 workers, so the initiative will have a fairly broad outreach.

OSHA estimates that half of window cleaners in the U.S. speak Spanish as their first language. With a work force that often struggles to read or understand English, it is important to be able to communicate proper safety practices, something that the industry may have failed to do previously. Now, the IWCA has promised to create new Spanish-language training materials and translate existing ones.

"We look forward to continuing our work with the IWCA to provide workplace training and education to ... reduce injuries throughout the industry," an OSHA assistant secretary said in announcing the pact. Any reduction in the number of falls among window washers would be welcome, but in cases where a fall occurs, the injured worker could be entitled to workers' compensation to pay for medical bills, lost wages and other costs.

Source: OSHA, "OSHA and the International Window Cleaning Association renew Alliance to protect workers from industry hazards," Nov. 1, 2012

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