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FWC leads meeting on powerline safety

Published 10th May, 2024 by Steve Kennedy

Steve Kennedy

Steve Kennedy

Vice Chairman
Federation of Window Cleaners
The British Cleaning Council

FWC leads meeting on powerline safety

Steve Kennedy, Vice Chairman, Federation of Window Cleaners (FWC), reports.

Every year, tragic incidents underscore the grave risks faced by window cleaners working near overhead power lines. In 2021 alone, two lives were lost when water-fed poles inadvertently made contact with live wires, resulting in fatal electrocutions. These sobering events highlight the urgent need for collaborative action to enhance safety protocols in the window cleaning industry.

The Federation of Window Cleaners (FWC) has taken a proactive stance by convening a crucial meeting with extension pole manufacturers and key industry stakeholders. Scheduled for 22 May 22 2024, this gathering aims to forge partnerships between the FWC, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Electric Networks Association (ENA), and industry leaders to address this pressing issue.

Power lines are often uninsulated and can carry up to 400,000 volts. Live equipment can be mounted on poles as low as 4.3 meters. An overhead line does not need to be touched to cause serious injury or death, as electricity can arc across small gaps, resulting in deadly flashovers.

Water-fed poles can reach as far as 20 meters or more, yet many have not undergone any form of electrical testing, and may not be insulated against electrical hazards. Gloves or rubber boots cannot reliably protect against electrocution, especially when wet or dirty.

In recent years, the UK Power Networks, the HSE, the FWC and others have worked to educate and inform window-cleaners of the dangers and the steps they can take to work safely but we at the FWC believe more should be done.

The May meeting will explore innovative solutions to mitigate the risk of electrocutions associated with extension pole use near power lines.

By fostering collaboration and sharing expertise, the goal is to establish robust safety measures that safeguard the lives of window cleaners and all workers operating in proximity to overhead wires. This pivotal meeting not only marks a critical step forward in prioritising safety but also sets the stage for ongoing efforts to revolutionise safety practices in the industry.

The FWC would also like to encourage any other interested parties to get in touch with us if you wish to participate in this on-going initiative. Please contact the General Secretary Beryl Murray on 0161 432 8754 or email beryl@f-w-c.co.uk if you are interested in attending the 22 May meeting.

www.f-w-c.co.uk

About the contributor

Steve Kennedy

Steve Kennedy

Vice Chairman

Federation of Window Cleaners

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