I’ve been a window cleaner for 16 years now, and I like to think I know a thing or two about a thing or two when it comes to window cleaning, but one of the things that I don’t know about is high-rise.
Most people who aren’t window cleaners think that high-rise is the only option when you tell someone you clean windows. I imagine you get it, too, when people ask, “you do those tall buildings?” You try to explain that there are more houses to do than big buildings, and they seem confused.
At Window Cleaning Resource, we are bringing in a lot of high-rise gear. That means we need to up our knowledge. SteveO and I got the opportunity to get trained on high-rise with a class that was held in Wisconsin. We were already filming in New York that week, so we went straight to Wisconsin from there.
We attended the` Green Safety Training, and our instructor was Jeff Scott, which I imagine a lot of you know. He’s a true industry OG. He’s been in the business cleaning window since he was 14. He’s a multi-generational window cleaner and prides himself in his certifications and helping people get trained.
I find it really interesting that there’s a piece of this industry that I’m unfamiliar with. It was super exciting to know that I was gonna have two days of learning something new to me.
The first day of training started and it was all about OSHA. I know that OSHA is boring and scary, but this part was pretty fascinating. There were so many things that I had no idea were regulated. I have to say that once you know the specifics of OSHA regulation, it’s not that scary anymore. I think people being scared of OSHA are just people not understanding it. I know I was guilty of it.
The classroom instruction was a full day of incredible workbooks, videos, and questions. There was a really good flow to it all. I don’t do well in a school-type situation, but it was good to be able to follow everything we went through; everything from OSHA to techniques. Both Steveo and I were able to keep our books from the class.
After day one of class, we got to have dinner with Jeff, and he told me that the classroom side of his company is more for him to be able to give back to the window cleaning community. I normally would think that that is some kind of pitch, but the class is so dang expensive he can’t be making any type of profit. I really do think this is something just focused on the education of it all.
Day two started and knowing you’re gonna be jumping off a building for the first time, in a long time, is a little unnerving. I have to say everything we did on the first day of class helped me feel like I had a good grasp on things when we got into the training facility. All the ropes were hung from the rafters of the building. Everyone circled around with their eyes on Jeff. He demonstrated the decent devises, carabiners, and rope grabs. Everything was laid out right in front of our eyes. It was an awesome hands-on gear lesson.
The main part of our training was not only understanding the equipment, but it was understanding how to do self rescues. Self rescues aren’t only for when something goes wrong, but more if something minimal ever happens. Say your rope grab gets stuck and you’re just too low to free it up. With a self rescue, you can just step up and release your rope and keep working. Everybody always thinks the worst when it comes to high-rise but it’s incredibly safe.
This was the end of our in-shop training, but as an added bonus, we did a full rescue on another person. It was great to get an understanding of how to rescue somebody if they’re injured or unable to self-rescue. With training we want a whole crew of super well versed and SAFE workers. Techs that can be ready for anything.
After lunch on D2, the whole classroom headed to a building in downtown Madison, Wisconsin. A 13-story building that Jeff has permission to do training with. It was a sunny day with blue skies, and a nice breeze off the lake. With the capitol building over his shoulder, he gets in the chair, and gives us one more rundown on how everything hooks up. Then just like that, he does his rap.
Our class had about 20 people in it, and everybody had at least one chance to make a drop. Everyone got to suit up in the best equipment on the market, most of it brand new, and we got to take our drop with the instructors guiding us.
I was doing filming for a video that I was putting out on this whole process, so I was the last one to go. No one had any worries about dropping; it was almost like we’ve always done this. Doing the training the way we did, we knew exactly what everything was, and what it did before we even took the drop. It really helps to be able to understand everything before you actually set out to do it.
There are a lot of people who want to get into high-rise. Whenever somebody calls me to buy high-rise gear, I tell them they need to get trained. I’ve gone through Jeff’s training twice over the years, and it is better now than ever. If you’re going to do high-rise, get trained! There are so many parts to working at heights that could end very badly. I’m not even going to get into the injuries that can occur. A violation from OSHA starts at thousands of dollars and continues to multiply depending on the violations. You could end up with an OSHA inspector handing out over $70,000 worth of fines just because you didn’t know OSHA regulations. Fines are your best-case scenario. If you don’t know what you’re doing and you haven’t gotten trained by a professional who knows everything there is to know about high-rise, you’re putting your life and the life of everybody else in danger.
No window is worth a life! Scary tactics aside, an OSHA fine could and has closed businesses. My company wouldn’t have had an easy time with $70,000 worth of fines, and I’m guessing yours might not either.
This isn’t an ad for Jeff’s class, even though I think it is by far the best option out there from the most knowledgeable guy in the industry. This is actually an ad to get trained. Just make sure that if you’re doing this kind of work, you learn about it before doing it. It’s an incredibly safe occupation when everything is done right. I have to say, even if you’re not getting into high-rise tomorrow, this class was really fun.