Extreme Jobs: Cradle vs Rope Access Window Cleaning

Rope Access Window Cleaning in London

The first thing on our minds when we hear “Extreme Jobs” or “The Most Dangerous Job” is probably something we have seen on TV – Alaskan crab fishers or miners. While these jobs carry tremendous risk to life and health, there are other professions with hazardous working conditions even within the city line. One of the least suspected high-risk professions is window cleaning. But even among window cleaners, there are gradations of how dangerous these jobs are.

How Dangerous is High Rise Window Cleaning

Buildings became much higher than they’ve been over 40 years ago. Nowadays they have many windows that need more maintenance. This transformation changed the way window cleaners should cope with the dirt. Earlier, the specialists stepped on the window ledge and supported themselves on the frames. Scary, right? Then, they worked in safety manners as they used leather ropes attached to anchor bolts. Recently, many innovative ways appeared, such as scaffolds, cherry pickers and more extreme ones.

Despite all these safety measures, commercial window cleaners are among the ones in the highest risk zone. Statistics from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) shows that working at height was one of the top reasons for fatal accidents for many workers in 2017. In fact, such risky environments have led to a lethal outcome for 28% of professionals. Probably, the two most extreme jobs in the window cleaning industry are the cradle and rope access window cleaning. Both professions involve special equipment, heights and various factors that define the level of risk.

Window Cleaning Cradles

This technique is suitable for a high rise window cleaning. The cradle represents a suspended window cleaning platform which is attached to the skyscraper with ropes. The platform can be large enough and can take more than two workers to clean the windows at the same time. The level of the cradle can be adjusted manually or automatically which makes the cleaning process easier. Usually, the window cleaners should have the necessary skills and experience, as well as, to have a certification that allows them to do the job. They also have additional safety equipment to protect them from unexpected circumstances.

Rope Access Window Cleaning

The closest they get to an office desk is when they fly around the glass of your window in one of those huge commercial blocks. But think about it for a second. While some are sitting 8 hours a day in front of a piece of glowing technology, these guys are literally in non-stop workout.  Apart from the fact they work on the outside of the buildings, they have to be dealing with nature itself. Cleaners are not allowed to work in winds that exceed 20 miles per hour. How comfy would you feel swinging around in even 18 mph wind 70 floors above the grounds? There's one more threat to their job and it's the upcoming robotisation of skyscraper window cleaning.

However, when comparing the two, you may think cradle window cleaning is much safer than a rope access cleaning. Obviously, being in a cradle is much more comforting than dangling in mid-air with only a glass to rely on. On the other hand, less equipment – smaller chances of something failing.

Add some sparkle to the windows of your high-rise office today!

Examples of Extreme Window Cleaning Situations

Let’s take our own independent internet research. By looking at the number of videos with window cleaning accidents, one can make a simple conclusion: it is much safer to jump out there with just a rope to hold you, rather than with huge and heavy metal boxes that will take you down with them if something goes wrong.

  • Just remember the nerve-racking situation a swinging cradle made on top of the Shard a few years ago:
  • And how about this? There’s probably no person, who would prefer to be in that thing even if they are into the extreme. It seems to be a film scene, but it’s not.

These guys risked their lives while cleaning, relatively tall buildings and some of them, probably, won’t ever come back to the same job.

  • Now compare them to the rope access window cleaners on the world’s tallest building – Burj Khalifa:

Even a BBC showman could make it down safely.

So the conclusion for us would be: if you are into extreme jobs and love to risk your life, go with Cradle window cleaning, but if you want to tell everyone that your job is extreme but feel safe enough to come back to your work every morning, choose rope access window cleaning.

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About author

Merin Jay

Merin Jay is a cleaning expert working with Top Window Cleaners since 2014. She loves helping people with eco-friendly living and window cleaning tips. Her passion for books, reading and writing go hand in hand with her interest in green cleaning technologies. Our blog and Quora are both places where she shares her skills and knowledge with the purpose of making the web (and the world) a better place.