Tuesday 25 December 2012

Window Cleaning Santas

A window cleaner dressed as Santa Claus works at a shopping mall in Tokyo on Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012.
Window cleaners dressed as Santa Claus and a reindeer work at a shopping mall in Tokyo, Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012. Click to enlarge.
Tokyo window cleaners dressed as Santa Claus prepare to work during a hotel Christmas event. Click to enlarge.
Junji Tsuda, right, and Akihiro Kondo, window cleaners dressed as Santa Claus and reindeer react before cleaning a window at a shopping mall in Tokyo. 2010. Click to enlarge.
Jason Dobinson, the owner of Sunshine Coast-based business All-Tech Industrial Abseilers, said working 14 floors up was nothing new for him and his staff, who spent a lot of time dangling from some of the Gold Coast's highest buildings. The Santa suits were "all about the kids", he said. "It's just our way of saying merry Christmas."
And finally - a WFP Santa.

Friday 21 December 2012

Window Cleaning News

Junya Kono, left, and Tomoharu Fujimaki, window cleaner dressed as Santa Claus and reindeer clean a window at a shopping mall in Tokyo, Japan, Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2009.
Obligatory Santa photos, used every year since 2009: Window cleaners dressed as Santa Claus work during an event promoting Christmas at a hotel in the business district of Tokyo.
Tips to aid the tippers this Christmas: It is a Christmas tradition that can give low-paid workers a boost and leave us with a festive glow. And it’s still the done thing to give a festive tip to the paper boy, postman, binman or window cleaner. But the tradition of seasonal tipping has become complicated – with concerns over etiquette and even conmen. Fraudsters in the county have already been exploiting generous residents – with one posing as a dustman to collect Christmas tips. Residents in the Winchester area were warned earlier this month that a man wearing a hi-vis vest and claiming to work for the council’s waste contractors Biffa was knocking on doors saying it was his last collection before Christmas, before asking for money.
Hampshire Constabulary has advised that anyone who wants to give a tip should take a “common sense approach” to avoid giving money to conmen. A spokesperson said: “The advice is to give it to the person directly or drop it off at their place of work. “If you know them personally write them a cheque or put the funds into some sort of format that cannot be used fraudulently by someone else.
“We’re advising a commonsense approach. “It’s very generous of people to give tips at Christmas.
However, there are people out there that wouldn’t think twice about stealing an envelope of money left outside a front door – it’s easy pickings.”
“With the kind of salaries these workers are getting it’s no wonder people feel they have to tip.” But etiquette expert William Hanson has advised that, in fact, it is better manners to give people a present rather than money. He said: “People do still tip, but what’s more common is to leave a bottle of wine and a Christmas card, rather than a specific amount of money. “That way it feels more like you’re giving a present, rather than just giving money and it’s a great idea. “This is the time of year when we think about other people – and sticking money in an envelope doesn’t require much thought – a present is a bit more personal.”

What to get the person who has everything: Is it always the thought that counts? Choosing presents for family and friends at Christmas can be a challenging task. There’s the pressure of what to buy them, hoping they will like it, and hoping that they don’t already have it. We all have that one friend who is impossible to buy for because they just seem to have everything. Joan Streets, 74, of Bents Green, said: “Definitely time. I’d make a list with things that need doing like hedge cutting and window cleaning. As I get older that’s the sort of thing I’d like.”

Special appearance by Santa at North Naples Hospital, Fla. - A special treat arrived for children at the NCH North this morning.  Santa Claus showed up to do a little window washing. The jolly fat man, complete with the brilliant red suit, took to the air with the aid of ropes to do some pre-Christmas cleaning. The Clean-Up Group gave an assist to the window washing effort. Watch FOX 4 News at 6 for more of this holiday appearance of Old Saint Nick in North Naples.

North driver was five times the limit: A Highland window cleaner who drove while almost five times the legal alcohol limit – a level high enough to kill a person – had an open can of lager in the car’s cup-holder when stopped by police, a court heard. Fiscal depute Roderick Urquhart described the level of alcohol in Steven Duncan’s body as “higher than the lowest fatality I have seen from alcohol poisoning”. Self-employed Duncan, 32, who previously worked as a nurse, was put off the roads for 40 months, fined £200 and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work when he appeared for sentence at Dingwall Sheriff Court.

Winbot Window Cleaning Robot Arriving In 2013: There is nothing quite like starting off the year on a clean slate, where everything is spanking new, so why not make sure your home’s windows too, are up to snuff? If you live on landed property, that should not be an issue, but for folks living in high rise buildings and the maintenance crew aren’t doing their jobs very well to keep your windows squeaky clean, here is good news for you – the Winbot window cleaning robot (yeah, isn’t the name super obvious) will be out from next year onwards, thanks to China-based Ecovacs.
Winbot functions like any other cleaning bots, where it will first maps out the scale of the surface that it needs to clean, followed by programming a path to track. The Winbot will rely on suction power instead of magnets in previous models, generating a mere 55 decibels of noise when “working”, and it can hold up to 37 pounds (17 kg). You can also attach a safety pod to the window just in case the Winbot loses suction. Any takers?
From the consumers’ point of view, the Winbot7 is easy to use. Simply attach little pads to the unit, spray them with some cleaner, place it on the window and press start, he explained. “Walk away and the robot will do its job, which is to clean the window.” The 4.5 pound robot is equipped with two powerful motors. One provides the suction to keep it vertical on the window, the other drives it smoothly. A soft bumper prevents damage to window frames. It also “has a very high tech brain,” which allows the Winbot to determine the best path to clean windows of all shapes and sizes, Savadian added. It cleans in a zigzag pattern and then the perimeter. “Then it will come back to the place of start and will play music to notify that ‘I am done and ready for the next chore,’” Savadian said. More here.

Tesco 'error' lets entrepreneur cash in: Gareth Pugh could not believe his luck when a Tesco pricing error allowed him to pick up a £59 vacuum cleaner for £1.90. The mis-pricing of the Karcher WV50 Window Cleaning Vacuum made national news and is one of numerous high-profile pricing glitches to hit the supermarket chain, including a £500 iPad going through checkouts for just £50. “Every day I check ukhotdeals online for a bargain or two, and as soon as I read about this I headed down to my local store to see if I could get lucky,” said the 30-year-old dad of two. “I picked up two and headed to the self-checkout in case they noticed something was up at the tills. I had the biggest smile on my face when it came up with £1.90.” “It happens all the time so keep your eyes peeled and you never know what you might be able to get your hands on.”

End Of The World For James? The Australian Deputy Commissioner of Taxation issued winding up proceedings against Rushlyn Pty Ltd for unpaid taxes on 26 November 2012. The case is before the Federal Court in Brisbane today. Rushlyn is the franchisor for the James Home Services group. If the Court website is accurate Rushlyn haven’t filed any documents to support an alternative to winding up.
With the James Home Services head office up for lease and no new address to be found, the Australian Tax Office and Rushlyn appear to have failed in reaching a payment schedule acceptable to the ATO. It seems the reputation of rogue franchising may have finally caught up with the James Home Services franchisor who is apparently having difficulties selling anything even close to the numbers of franchises he needs to sell.
James Home Services have been pushing franchises for house cleaning, pet grooming, mowing, window cleaning, carpet cleaning, car detailing and pest control. It is reported that most of these brands have very low numbers of franchisees. The brand has been plagued by angry franchisees seeking both compensation and revenge.

Police issue e-fit in Telford house burglary probe: Police are keen to talk to the man about a burglary that occurred in Horsehay in October. The incident happened at an address in Spring Village on Tuesday October 23, between 7.10am and 3pm. Police said it appeared a stone or brick was used to smash a rear window. The burglars then reached in through the smashed window and opened it to gain access. Once inside the house the burglars carried out a thorough search before stealing a gold ladies watch worth about £400 and about £800 in cash before escaping. Detective Constable Charlotte Ford, who is investigating the incident, has released this e-fit image of a man she would like to identify as part of her investigation. DC Ford said: “According to a witness who lives near the property that was burgled, the man featured in the e-fit was in the area on the day of the burglary and was offering window cleaning services to local residents. “This man was seen approaching the house that was burgled on the day in question and therefore we are keen to identify and speak to him so we can ensure he is not involved in this break-in. 

Stupid Police Officer: Inspector Mark Barlow, from the Newcastle Borough local policing team, is advising residents to keep all their windows secure, and to remain vigilant. Inspector Barlow added: "We don't know if this is a professional burglar, or someone who is just walking around the area and taking opportunities when they come. We have a list of people we are looking to talk to about the burglaries. "We are advising to be on the look out for anyone acting suspiciously. For example, someone carrying around ladders might be suspicious, as it isn't the usual time of year for cleaning windows."

Brian McClerren of Lopez Island has declared his candidacy from District 3 Lopez/Shaw/Decatur for the new county-wide county council election April 23. McClerren moved to Lopez Island in 2004, lured by a plethora of good paying jobs. Initially he was hired over the telephone by a local building contractor. “The labor shortage was so acute that I remember trying to convince my friends back in Oregon to move up and work construction,” he said. Jobs were easy to find, but places to live were not. His first rental on the island had a priceless view of the ocean but no kitchen or shower. “I figured out early on that if you want to survive out here you've got to have a broad set of skills and you have to keep adapting,” he said. McClerren recently hired the first employee for his new business Reveal Window Cleaning while also working full time at Sunset Builder's Supply. McClerren has pledged to restore monthly town hall meetings and make himself available to those who can't find the time to attend. “We must find ways to improve citizens access to our government and give the people tangible reasons to believe that the council is their advocate and not their adversary,” he said.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is giving city contracts to private companies that promise to "save money" by replacing hundreds of good-paying union jobs with low-paying non-union jobs. More than 300 janitors and window washers at O'Hare International Airport are at risk of losing their jobs just days before Christmas this year because Mayor Emanuel is replacing their employer with United Maintenance. As Republicans across the country continue their all-out assault on public employees, labor unions and the middle class, why is Chicago's Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- President Obama's former White Hose Chief-of-Staff -- joining in by awarding contracts that eliminate good-paying union jobs for race-to-the bottom, low-paying, insider-connected, anti-middle-class non-union jobs? To top it off, several news organizations are reporting that the companies involved may have "ties" to organized crime, including top employees convicted of racketeering in organized crime prosecutions, and partnerships with known organized crime figures.

Labor headache on Broadway may be averted (NEW YORK) — A union representing hundreds of Broadway theater cleaners, porters, elevator operators and bathroom attendants, janitors, property maintenance workers, doormen, security officers, window cleaners and food service workers reached a tentative agreement with theater producers to avert a strike, both sides said Monday. The potential deal must still be ratified by the 250 theater workers represented by the 32BJ union, a process expected to be completed by next week. Details of the deal were not immediately revealed. "This is a fair agreement that addresses the concerns of our members, the men and women who work hard every day to keep theaters safe, clean and running for the millions of theatergoers who come to Broadway from around the world," said Shirley Aldebol, vice president of 32BJ. Members of the union last week authorized a strike if an acceptable new deal wasn't reached by the end of the year. The current contact ends Dec. 30. Workers are seeking pay increases and better health care benefits.

Calgary Hail Storm Makes Environment Canada's Top 10 Extreme Weather Events: It only lasted about 10 minutes, but the hail storm that blew in and out of Calgary on Aug. 12 this summer packed enough punch to find a place on Environment Canada's top ten list of Canadian weather stories for 2012. The mammoth storm rolled over city skies late at night, pelting homes, cars and people with hailstones larger than golf balls and brought with it high winds that felled trees and ripped siding from buildings and residences. It was so severe, with the potential to do much more damage, that cloud-seeding planes were sent to the skies to help calm the storm.
The Calgary Herald reported at the time that four aircraft were sent into thick, swirling clouds for more than 12 hours before the storm, spraying silver iodide into the air to tamper the size of the hailstones that would eventually fall. "This one was a beast. It took everything we threw at it and still was able to wreak some havoc," Terry Krauss, project director of the Alberta Severe Weather Management Society told the Herald. "I believe if we hadn't seeded, it would have even been worse." And if that weren't enough, Calgary was hit later that week with two separate hail storms that left behind additional damage and even stranded two window washers 22 storeys above the downtown core before they were forced to smash out an office window to climb to safety.

Kindles Slices brings digestible essays and short stories to the UK: After a relatively successful stint in the US, Amazon is bringing its "vast spectrum " of reports, memoirs and narratives to the British Isles. Former Penguin Press managing director, Andrew Rosenheim, has been drafted in to curate what appears in Kindle Slices. at the moment, there's plenty of 99p titles from notable authors and journalists, with subjects encompassing video games, Lincoln and short stories involving window cleaners -- hopefully, then, a suitable read in there for any UK readers unwrapping a new Kindle next week.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Window Cleaning Safety Concerns In Australia

A window cleaner is seen washing windows without a safety harness.
Safety concerns reach new heights: Concerns for highrise safety protocols have been sparked after a horrified passerby snapped a picture of a window cleaner perched high on a ledge without safety gear. The unidentified cleaner was seen many stories up on the Surfers Paradise RSL building at 9 Beach Rd on Tuesday. A cleaning bucket is visible and the cleaner is wearing a sun-protection hat but no other safety equipment can be seen as he reaches up to clean the large windows.

Photographer Byron Bailey said it was an all-to-common sight on the Glitter Strip. "I can't believe just how many times I see this all over the Coast," he said. "I watched (this cleaner) jump from ledge to ledge as he cleaned the windows." The building manager told the Bulletin he was unaware of the alleged incident and could not comment.

Under Queensland's Workplace Health and Safety Act, staff and employers must maintain safe work conditions or face stiff fines. Individuals can cop maximum fines up to $50,000, businesses $300,000 and body corporates can be up for $1.5 million. A WHS Code of Practice published last year regarding fall risks recommended suspended platforms or ropes and harnesses be used for window cleaning. Alternatively, it recommends building designers install windows that pivot to allow for indoor cleaning and prevent outdoor accidents.

A holiday maker "jumped out" the window of a Gold Coast high rise to rescue a window cleaner who fell five storeys to the 17th floor after his ropes failed.
A government spokesman said anyone concerned about their workplace safety practices to view legislation and codes of practice details online. It comes after a 35-year-old window cleaner was left dangling on a rope after he plunged four storeys from the 21st level of a Main Beach hotel yesterday before smashing through an apartment window. Lee Heights was pulled to safety by Brisbane holidaymakers after his safety rope slackened, sending him down the side of the building at high speed. He was taken to hospital with suspected broken ribs after the fall yesterday morning.

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Mr. Heights Takes A Drop In Australia

Lee Heights, a window cleaner has fallen from the top of a Gold Coast high-rise, dangling 17 storeys above the ground after his harness gave way.
Queensland cleaner rescued after high-rise fall: A hotel guest has helped rescue a window cleaner left dangling on a rope after falling four storeys at a Gold Coast high-rise. The man had been cleaning windows on the 21st floor of the Sunbird Beach Resort at Main Beach, when a rope went slack. The 35-year-old, who was wearing a safety harness, fell four floors and hit a 17th floor window. A woman staying at the hotel reportedly pulled the dangling man onto a balcony. He has been taken to the Gold Coast Hospital in a stable condition, with suspected rib injuries.

The cleaner, reported to have the ironic name of Lee Heights, was left dangling next to the balcony of the room where the Nicol family, from Brisbane, were holidaying. Mum Jenny Nicol helped pulled the man to safety before she and husband Richard raised the alarm with the building managers. "He was yelling out in pain and groaning and looked a bit dazed," Ms Nicol told The Courier-Mail. "He must have knocked himself out for a bit. I'm just glad he's okay." Police as well as the Department of Workplace Health and Safety are investigating the incident.

Sunbird Beach Resort at Main Beach
Gold Coast high-rise window cleaner who plunged five floors is plucked to safety by tourist on 17th floor: Brisbane holiday makers have rescued a high-rise window cleaner - with the ironic name of Lee Heights - who plunged five floors from a Gold Coast apartment tower. Mr Heights, 35, was tethered to an abseiling rope while cleaning windows on the 21st floor of the Sunbird Beach Resort at Main Beach when he fell about 9.30am on Wednesday. He is believed to have struck his head as he plummetted to the 17th storey, where he was left dazed and dangling.

The Nicol family, of Indooroopilly, were holidaying in the building when they saw Mr Heights fall and pulled him to safety through a bedroom window. "He sort of swung down and hit his head and his elbow smashed into the glass,'' said 14-year-old Jess Nicol, who was in the kitchen of the 17th floor apartment when she saw the fall. "He was just hanging there next to our unit.''

Mum Jenny Nicol helped pull Mr Heights to safety and she and husband Richard alerted the building managers, who rang an ambulance. "He was yelling out in pain and groaning and looked a bit dazed,'' Mrs Nicol said. "He must have knocked himself out for a bit. I'm just glad he's OK.'' Mr Heights, who has been cleaning highrise windows for about 15 years, was taken to Gold Coast Hospital with minor injuries. Police and the Department of Workplace Health and Safety are investigating.

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Window Cleaners With Problems

The "Hot" system that never was.. Jordan Murray and Steven Gumbrell with the remains of their van.
Window cleaners fight Hove van fire: Two window cleaners had an eventful journey to work when their van burst into flames outside a school. Jordan Murray and Steven Gumbrell stopped outside Cardinal Newman School in Hove yesterday morning (December 17) when they smelt burning coming from the heater. Soon flames began shooting through the heater ducts and into the cab. The two window cleaners tried to battle the blaze with buckets of water from the back of their van but had to step back as the fire spread out of control. Shocked children on their way to school watched as the front of the van was consumed by flame. Mr Murray said: “We were quite shocked to say the least. “We tried to fight it because we’re window cleaners and we had plenty of water, but we gave up after a while. “We’re just lucky the fire didn’t spread to the engine or it could have been a lot worse.” Firefighters soon extinguished the blaze but the van was completely destroyed. 

Watchdog: A communication breakdown for one local business owner - Ever want someone to growl on your behalf? The Watchdog wants to know about your consumer dilemmas and civic complaints. Each week she’ll select one of your issues, take a bite through the red tape of bureaucracy, and bark up the trees of local government, institutions and businesses. Where there’s a remedy, reason or recourse, there’s The ’Dog.

This week: Technology is supposed to make life easier. Except when it does the opposite. One local business owner questioned whether linking his window cleaning operation to a Verizon Wireless smartphone was such a smart idea after all. Charlie Olson, owner of Malibu Window Cleaning, said he thought ditching his business landline would save money. And it did.

“It looked like a good business decision with one major exception,” Olson wrote in an email to the ‘Dog. “If you call us from a business line whether from a commercial or residential location, no problem. If you use a residential phone that is a bundle or FiOS, no problem.” And if you call the business from a cellphone, that also works. “However, if you call us from a Verizon residential landline, problem. This number is not in service,” Olson said. “Huge problem if your bread and butter is residential window cleaning.”

Olson said he received a handwritten note from one customer saying she was frustrated she sees his van everywhere, but can’t get through by calling from her landline. Olson said he feels like a helpless minnow swimming in a sea of Verizon bureaucracy. The ‘Dog barked up the tree of Melanie Ortel, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless. She said Monday morning that Verizon Wireless representatives contacted Olson on Friday to see if they could figure out what was happening. Indeed, the customer service representative called Olson via a landline and was able to reach him, Ortel said.

Though the communication breakdown seems to be resolved, Ortel said the company is still trying to figure out what triggered it. She said Olson provided phone numbers of customers who had a problem reaching him, and the company will continue to investigate. To report a problem with your Verizon Wireless account, go here. The Watchdog would also direct cellphone customers who are having ongoing problems with their providers to contact the Federal Communications Commission. While the commission encourages consumers to try to solve the problem with their provider first, it will step in as a last resort. Complaints can be made online here.

Verizon Scares the crap out of NJ with “Accidental” Emergency Text: Take shelter NOW….”Whats that?” Surprisingly people didn’t end up at the door of the local FEMA camp (Football stadium) for “protection”. A mass text message warning New Jersey cell phone users of a “civil emergency” was sent out by Verizon Wireless earlier today as part of a “test emergency notification,” the telecommunications company said. In a response statement issued about two hours after the mass text was sent out, alarming some Garden State residents, Verizon Wireless apologized to its customers. “This test message was not clearly identified as a test,” company spokesman David Samberg said in an e-mailed statement to The Star-Ledger. “We apologize for any inconvenience or concern this message may have caused.” The emergency alert was sent out to New Jersey phone users in Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties earlier this afternoon, citing a “civil emergency in this area until 1:24 p.m.” and telling residents to “take shelter now.” Local police departments and county authorities said they received a high volume of 911 calls from residents concerned about the alerts and asking whether there was an actual emergency.

Monday 17 December 2012

Verdict, Ladders & Fines For UK Users

Tragic window cleaner used ‘unsafe’ ladders: An elderly window cleaner fell to his death in South Tyneside while using “unsafe” ladders. Robert Veater, 71, was working at a house in Hindmarch Drive, West Boldon, on November 8 when he slipped and fell. An inquest was told that Mr Veater suffered extensive brain and other injuries in the 12ft fall. After hearing evidence about the poor state of the ladders Mr Veater was using at the time, South Tyneside Coroner Terence Carney said: “This was sadly an accident waiting to happen.”

The hearing was told the metal ladders were hand-made in places and were not fitted with rubber feet. Mr Veater fell off the ladder while cleaning windows at the home of couple Glen Cattanach and Joanne Rowland, who came to his aid after hearing a loud crash. The couple were commended by the coroner for their actions, including putting the injured man in the recovery position and trying to clear his airway.

Pathologist Dr Nigel Cooper said death was the result of a blunt head injury, after Mr Veater slipped from the ladders and fell on to a sloping driveway. Mr Veater, of Durham Road, Sunderland, was initially taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary but, after he suffered respiratory arrest, the ambulance was diverted to South Tyneside District Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Det Insp Caroline Ord, who investigated the fatal fall, said: “Mr Veater worked alone and usually anchored his ladders to a vehicle, but the ladders did not stay that way. “The two-piece ladder was not the safest and not in the best of repair. “In my opinion, the ladders slipped.” Mr Carney said: “Mr Veater died as the result of a blunt head injury and that blunt head injury occurred inadvertently in a fall.” Verdict: accidental death.

Trade in your old or dodgy ladders and get a brand new shiny safe ladder in return! The Ladder Exchange is a great example of how everyone in the health and safety system can share responsibility and work together towards a common goal; namely, reducing falls from height.

10,000 Ladders and Rising !!! With immediate effect, the Ladder Association has assumed responsibility for delivering the annual Ladder Exchange. Since its launch, the initiative has been responsible for removing over 10,000 broken, bent or damaged ladders from the workplace with the message 'Don't let a dodgy ladder shatter your life'. Now in its sixth consecutive year, the Ladder Exchange, which begins on 1 September and runs until 30 November 2012, provides all businesses with the opportunity to exchange broken, bent or damaged ladders for safe, new ones at a discounted price.

Actively supported by the Ladder Association and its members who, throughout, have made a firm commitment to work in partnership with HSE and the access industry, the Exchange has also contributed to raising awareness and understanding of how to use ladders and stepladders safely. Under the scheme, suspect ladders can be exchanged, at a discount, at participating partners. The Ladder Exchange is a great example of how everyone in the health and safety system can share responsibility and work together towards a common goal; namely, reducing falls from height.

Falls from height: Despite a steady decline, falls from height remain the most common kind of workplace fatality. In 2010/11, a total of 38 workers died and 4,327 employees suffered a major injury as a result of a fall from height in the workplace, with a further 10,232 employees suffering an ‘over 3 day’ injury. Many of these incidents could have been avoided by people with the right training using the correct equipment that had been properly inspected and maintained.
*Please contact the ladder association for more information even though the time-line has passed.

Fee for Intervention (FFI) - HSE now operates a Fee for Intervention (FFI) cost recovery scheme, which came into effect on 1 October 2012. Under The Health and Safety (Fees) Regulations 2012, those who break health and safety laws are liable for recovery of HSE’s related costs, including inspection, investigation and taking enforcement action. Download the pdf file.

Why is FFI being introduced? HSE and the government believe it is right that businesses that break health and safety laws should pay for HSE’s time in putting matters right, investigating and taking enforcement action. Before FFI was introduced, this was paid for from the public purse. FFI will also encourage businesses to comply in the first place or put matters right quickly when they don’t. It will also discourage businesses who think that they can undercut their competitors by not complying with the law and putting people at risk.

Will FFI apply to me? If you comply with the law you won’t pay a fee.
FFI only applies to work carried out by HSE’s inspectors so if your business is inspected for health and safety by another regulator, such as local authority environmental health officers, it will not apply. FFI will apply to all businesses and organisations inspected by HSE, except for:
  • self-employed people who don’t put people at risk by their work; 
  • those who are already paying fees to HSE for the work through other arrangements; 
  • and those who deliberately work with certain biological agents.

Friday 14 December 2012

Window Cleaning News

English humour from Harry Hill, 48, Comedian. My house is nicer than my old one. I moved because a window cleaner knocked at my door and said: "Oh, you! I thought you'd have a better house than this."
Window Cleaner Bill Tyler with daughters Leah, Jodie and Amy and the Christmas light display.
Chingford father's Christmas effort for daughters; A father has created a festive wonderland in his garden for his young daughters to enjoy. Bill Tyler, 43, of Friday Hill, Chingford, has Father Christmas disappearing down the chimney, as well as Bart and Homer Simpson building a snowman in his front garden. There is also a train on the roof and around a thousand lights to wow daughters , 15, Kayleigh, 12, Amy, 8, and Leah, 4. Mr Tyler said: “I’ve always loved Christmas and I want to make an effort for my daughters because they grow up so fast. “They love it and their friends love it as well.” The Christmas scene takes Mr Tyler three days to put up and it is lit up between 3.45pm and 7pm every day. He added: “The neighbours think it’s great. I’ve done it every year for the last four or five and we do a round of Chingford in the car as well to see other people’s decorations.”

Pakistan cricketer drinks soap solution, out of danger: Captain of the Pakistan cricket team for the blind Zeeshan Abbasi, 30, was admitted to the M.S. Ramaiah Hospital here on Saturday morning after he consumed ‘diluted soap solution’ kept on the breakfast table mistaking it for drinking water. The partially blind cricketer was discharged in the evening after an endoscopy showed he was normal. The Pakistan Blind Cricket Council (PBCC), in a release, said it accepted the apology tendered by Moevenpick Hotel and Spa, where the team is staying. “The administration of PBCC, in the better interest of cricket and to fasten the relationship between the two countries, accepted the apology of the hotel administration.” Pakistani manager Bilal Satti said the team considered that the “matter is resolved.” Earlier, a controversy arose after a statement by the team management that Mr. Abbasi was “served cleaning acid,” sparked apprehensions that the team, which had thumped India by eight wickets the previous day, was targeted by miscreants.
Speaking to journalists, Mr. Satti had said: “We arrived at 7 a.m. for breakfast in the hotel – these water bottles were the brand we have been using throughout our visit. It appears that there was some cleaning acid in the bottle. It so happened that the captain drank it. He spat out the liquid when he realised that it was not water.” Due to play against Bangladesh in a league match on Saturday as part of the ongoing T20 World Cup for the Blind, Mr. Abbasi proceeded to the venue with the rest of the team. However, he complained of soreness in the throat and the team management rushed him to hospital. Naresh Shetty, president of the hospital, said the liquid “was not acid” as it was initially feared by the team management. The hospital in a statement said the solution could be either diluted phenyl or soapwater. The management apologised for the incident and said the liquid was soap detergent meant to clean windowpanes. The hotel said the diluted soap solution bottle was erroneously left on the table by the banquet team member and his services, along with that of his supervisor, were terminated. Mr. Abbasi said his health was fine and he was looking forward to leading Pakistan in its remaining matches.

New Social Entrepreneurs: One in a hundred adults is incarcerated in America. “That’s an economic, social, and moral problem,” says Baillie Aaron. “And when people are released from prison, few employers will hire them—regardless of their crime. The consequences of this reality really fired me up to want to make a change.” Such zeal, and a deep desire to help people “reach their potential,” led her to found Massachusetts-based Venturing Out Inc., which runs a 10-week course on entrepreneurship for inmates. Since 2010, 227 men and women have completed the course: many are now running businesses such as church-window washing, online talent recruitment, and chemical-free landscaping. “It’s not a therapy or counseling program, nor does it focus on improving weaknesses,” Aaron adds. “We assume people are resourceful and capable, and teach them how to apply their existing skills to become economically self-sufficient.” The idea behind Venturing Out came [after graduation] when Aaron, then a research assistant at the Kennedy School’s Program in Criminal Justice, was tutoring a young man at Boston’s Suffolk County House of Correction. She noticed not only his ability to work hard but also his keen business sense—a trait shared by many prisoners, albeit often gained through illegal activities. “I saw an untapped market” for transferring those skills, she recalls, and entrepreneurial aims that were “highly achievable.”

Thousands in Southwest Florida try business ownership: In Lee County, popular startups from 2007 to October 2012 were in miscellaneous maintenance or repair, janitorial service and retail sales. During that time frame, 2,464, or 7.2 percent, of startups were for miscellaneous maintenance of repair. Startups for janitorial service were at 2,297, or 6.7 percent, and retail sales had 1,804, 5.3 percent. Collier County didn’t have similar data. But from July 1 to Dec. 3, the most-held active license category was retail sales with 1,836 licenses. It was followed by maintenance service/no contractor work at 1,752 and restaurant at 1,614.
Johnson said maintenance and janitorial-type jobs were popular during the recession because they required little up-front costs. After losing a job, people want a low-cost business. Washing windows, for example, only requires a bucket and a squeegee. “It’s inexpensive and you don’t have to go to the bank,” he said. “You can get into business by using your credit card.” And although the number of occupational licenses declined, it doesn’t mean people weren’t opening successful businesses.

Teen wins award for robot: A groundbreaking window-cleaning robot has won an Auckland teenager an international award. Sohail Abdulla, 17, from Mt Roskill Grammar School began inventing a robotic window cleaner for his father who suffers back and knee pain. But judges at the Genesis Energy Realise the Dream event thought his device had more merit than just as a handy tool for Abdulla's dad and tonight he was awarded the inaugural American Ambassador Outstanding Award.
They were particularly impressed with Abdulla's understanding of the engineering research and development process through to testing a prototype. Abdulla has been offered an all expenses paid trip to participate at the INTEL Science & Engineering Fair in Phoenix, Arizona in May 2013. The fair is the biggest of its type in the world with over 1500 participants from around the globe showcasing their science research and innovations. Abdulla has spent the last week at Realise the Dream, a national event which rewards 20 students for their science research or engineering.

Winbot is a Window Cleaning Machine: Seriously, its a machine that cleans your windows. Hands-free design, in the vein of the carpet-vac Roomba, Winbot affixes itself to your window and propels itself forward, cleaning whatever scuffs, dust, fingerprints, debris, etc. that is in its path. Compared to other window cleaning techniques, Winbot sweeps the competition. (I’m sorry, couldn’t help it.) Ecovacs has set out to create the most user-friendly and easiest way to clean windows. With Winbot, I think they’ve done just that. Their advertisement features a cute tag: “Clings like a gecko; cleans like a champion.”
Using reusable cleaning pads and a cleaning solution, the Winbot suctions itself to the window as a light turns on. First, the device measures the best method of cleaning and then begins a zig zag pattern, covering every inch of the window. The rear of the Winbot features a squeegee, which after the pads have moistened the glass, cleans the surface before a dry pad absorbs any residual cleaning solution. When finished, the machine sets off an air release trigger to disengage Winbot from the glass surface. The fantastic hands-free window cleaner will debut at the 2013 (Las Vegas) CES in January — the same event where Ecovacs presented the beta version last year.

Robots should be cleaning your home: Internet entrepreneurs like Elon Musk are now investing in spaceflight. Why are you putting $25 million into robots? "There are a lot of tasks they can help with. Telepresence robots bring opportunities for doctors, travellers and business people. There are also domestic robots that can do a lot of stuff that is difficult or not interesting. If you look around, you see how many repetitious tasks people are doing that it would be much better for a robot to do: cleaning the house, washing a window, bringing something to your home."

Europeans buy fewer household lines to afford food, finds SymphonyIRI: Latest Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry research from SymphonyIRI Group highlights the extent of the pressure some of the biggest non-food brand owners are under to meet their growth projections as price inflation continues to outstrip wage growth and real incomes are squeezed. In SymphonyIRI’s Retailer Private Label in Europe report released last week, private label is doing particularly well in the household category and challenging national brands as shoppers become more reluctant to pay for top names. This is particularly true in glass/window cleaners, dishwashing and hand dishwashing and household cleaners.

Tributes paid to brave ex-soldier: A brave soldier who survived of a terrorist attack nearly 60 years ago has died at the age of 77. Stan Taylor, of Windhill Road Eastmoor, died peacefully on December 3 after a short illness.  He was only 19 when he lost a leg in an ambush while performing his National Service in Malaya in 1955. The dad-of-four went on to work as a window cleaner in the well known Taylor brothers’ firm despite his injury and also enjoyed a career with Slazenger Sports in Horbury and as a caretaker at his old school, St Austin’s on Back Duke of York Street. Even after he retired Mr Taylor did voluntary work for the British Limbless ex Servicemen Association which saw him visit and deliver parcels to war widows. Wife Jean Taylor, 78, said: “That was his life - to overcome his handicap.” Mr Taylor is survived by his wife, four children, 12 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. His funeral was held at Wakefield Crematorium on Wednesday.

Window cleaners preyed upon man with memory loss: Two window cleaners preyed on an elderly man, stealing a laptop containing the only photographs he had of his dead son. Joe Tate (right), 22, and David Bradley (left), 27, have been jailed for targeting the man, who had suffered a brain haemorrhage. In a victim impact statement read out at Hull Crown Court, the man's wife said: "They targeted my husband on one of the few occasions I went out and was not with him. "I remember speaking to them both previously about his illness. "We both feel cheated by this offence. We feel they deliberately targeted us."
Knowing the man suffered memory problems, Tate and Bradley had waited for the man's wife to leave before knocking on the door of the couple's house in Bransholme. They had gone to his home to ask if he wanted his windows cleaned, even though they had only done them just two days earlier. Bradley noticed the laptop sitting on the table before he was told by the man to come back when his wife was home. Tate then knocked on the front door, asking if the man wanted his gutters cleaning, giving Bradley the opportunity to break in through the back door and steal the computer. Bradley sent Tate a text saying "Bang Now" to distract the victim.
The pair made off with the computer, worth £479, which contained photographs of the couple's son, who had died. They both pleaded guilty to the burglary on July 5 after they were caught when neighbours reported them to police. Detectives discovered the text message on Tate's phone, which had been sent seconds before the burglary happened. Tate has a previous conviction for a distraction burglary.
Judge Simon Jack said: "It was an extremely mean offence, committed against a very vulnerable man at a time when his full-time carer, his wife, was away. "It caused a significant degree of sentimental loss to the victim. The material on the computer was irreplaceable. "This is a case where the victim was deliberately targeted because of his vulnerability. "You had been told by his wife of his difficulties which involved his memory loss and that made him an easy target. You picked a time when his carer was away and I'm satisfied this was not a coincidence. The two of you worked together to distract him to steal his laptop. "There was a significant degree of planning and organisation." Tate, of Borthwick Close, Bransholme, has been jailed for three and a half years and Bradley, of Blackhope Close, Bransholme, has been jailed for two years and four months. Tate has 10 previous convictions including burglary convictions.

Sci-Fi items stolen during Telford house burglary: Thieves broke into the property sometime between 11.45am and 3.10pm by smashing a window in the patio doors at the back with a brick. Once inside the property, the thieves carried out a thorough, untidy search of the property before stealing a number of items and making their escape. Among the items stolen were a wedding ring, a number of antique Star Wars models worth around £200 and some Star Trek magazines. In addition, around £450 in cash was also stolen as a result of this break-in. A police spokesman said: “The victim – a lady in her 60s – has been left devastated by the break-in as the stolen items are of great sentimental value to her. “She has no idea who broke into her home but she did receive a visit from an unknown man offering window cleaning services a short time before she went out yesterday morning. “Officers investigating this incident would like to speak to anyone who may have information about it and are especially keen to speak to the man who offered his services as a window cleaner so they can establish exactly who he is. “Anyone with information about this burglary is asked to contact police in Telford on 101 or 0300 333 3000, quoting reference number 390S 101212.

Our good friend the former convict: Kathy Curran always checks the doors and windows before leaving her smart home just north of London. "I know all about security," she laughs. "I've been trained by the best." By the best, she means Brian, a career criminal who has spent nearly 30 years inside. She and Brian have formed an unlikely but remarkable alliance over the past eight years. It has culminated in his looking after her children and even going on holiday with her and her husband. Kathy, a criminologist with a doctorate from Cambridge, specialises in the rehabilitation of repeat offenders. A brief spell in the Probation Service convinced her this wasn't the way to build up trust and really make a difference. She says you need to spend time with people, have a drink and a chat in the pub, take them shopping. "Once you've established trust, people are more receptive and more likely to listen to advice." The theory is one thing, but inviting a criminal into your home is quite another. "Getting that first job is key," she continues, "but in reality no one wants to employ an ex-offender. That's why I decided to do just that."
Determined to practise what she preached, she visited New Life, an organisation (now sadly defunct due to lack of funding) that helped former prisoners to learn the skills they'd need to gain employment. It was here that she first met Brian (not his real name). Eight years later , she's never looked back. "He was very smartly dressed in a matching suit and tie, with polished shoes and slicked-back hair. But he looked really nervous, too," she recalls. "I told him I wanted him to come and paint the outside of my house." "This was my first chance to earn clean money," Brian chips in. "I'd had it drummed into me that if I worked and paid taxes, I was a mug. Going out to earn money, before, meant I never knew if I'd make it home in the evening. So I felt utter relief when Kathy offered me this chance and I grabbed it with both hands."Brian, now 50, reels off an impressive A-to-Z of his past offences – shoplifting, fraud, drug dealing, armed robbery ("just till money"), and "creeping". For the uninitiated, this is when you dress up as a window cleaner, for example, go into a commercial property and pilfer from people's coats and desks.

Detective Constable Lloyd Davies of West Mercia Police said: "If neighbours see anything suspicious, such as strangers in back gardens or loitering outside homes, or hear glass breaking or an alarm sounding, it is vital they contact us immediately, preferably with descriptions of potential offenders and any vehicles they are using. "Sometimes we get calls about people hanging around outside houses and it turns out they are looking for a lost pet or we are alerted to people climbing over garages with ladders who genuinely are window cleaners. "Anyone who rings a suspicious incident into the police with good intent need not worry about wasting our time, and with Christmas approaching and people likely to be out more or going away for a few days we urge everyone to be good neighbours and keep an eye on each other's homes.

Window Genie of Fort Worth will Give Up to $500 to The Salvation Army in Exchange for Facebook “Likes” - Chuck Street and his crew at Window Genie promise to give $1 to The Salvation Army for each “like” they receive on Facebook through December 27th. Those in the Dallas/Fort Worth area are urged to help Window Genie give back this holiday season. They hope to raise awareness for not only their brand but The Salvation Army ARC Adult Rehabilitation Center in Fort Worth. Street promises those in the community that if they “like” the Window Genie Forth Worth Facebook page he will give $1 on their behalf to The Salvation Army. His goal is to be able to give $500.

Chicago-Area Business to Give Away 400 Boxes of Twinkies for Holidays: The giveaway is limited to one box per person and will continue until all 400 boxes (or available takers) run out. In the wake of Hostess’ bankruptcy troubles, Cherry Logistics was able to obtain a 400-box cache of the now-endangered dessert. Company owner Michael Healy thought the best way to enjoy the prize was to give it away in the holiday spirit. “This is our way to wish our neighbors and guests here in Chicagoland a happy holiday season and pay tribute to the passing of some truly iconic junk food at the same time,” said Healy. “We welcome any and all to stop by, grab a box on us, and say hello.”
Cherry Logistics, Inc., headquartered in North Aurora, IL, was founded in 2003 as a snow removal service. Since that time the company has become a premier provider of consolidated facilities maintenance services including window washing.

Mayor Risks Becoming Scrooge In O’Hare Labor Controversy: Did you hear those Christmas carols at Mayor Emanuel’s home, sung about the janitors at O’Hare? The floor-washers, window-wipers, the toilet-scrubbers at O’Hare, caroling for their salaries, walking in the dark and cold, pleading with Mr. Mayor to save their jobs. Please, they sing, don’t pink-slip us, not now, sir, not before Christmas. Do you hear them, Mr. Mayor? Are you listening to the pleas of 300 janitors being fired before Christmas, so that you can hire new janitors for less pay, so that you can save $11 million in your $8 billion budget? Minority janitors, immigrant janitors who have followed their dreams to the middle class in Chicago, working jobs that most people don’t want, for $12 or $13 an hour — being knocked down to the bottom class. To save a few million out of $8 billion? That’s not being Mr. Mayor at Christmas. It’s being Mr. Scrooge. Also here & here.

Broadway faces potential holiday labor headache (New York) - The union representing hundreds of Broadway theater cleaners, porters, elevator operators and bathroom attendants voted Wednesday to authorize its leaders to call a strike if a new contract isn't approved by the end of the month, potentially throwing a wrench into a busy holiday season. Members of the 250-person 32BJ union voted during a noisy rally on the street outside the Times Square offices of the Broadway League, which represents producers and theater owners. They stood in the cold and heard speakers blast Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up," ''Family Affair" by Sly & The Family Stone and Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind." Any strike would affect workers at 32 of Broadway's 40 theaters where the 32BJ has a contract, meaning all the Shubert, Nederlander and Jujamcyn-owned theaters, as well as the Circle in the Square Theatre. The eight other Broadway theaters have different arrangements. The 32BJ, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, has more than 120,000 members, concentrated in the Northeast. It represents janitors, property maintenance workers, doormen, security officers, window cleaners and food service workers. Also here & here.

Documentary shorts: Also with an editorial pedigree is Nadav Kurtz who continues as an accomplished editor at Cutters. He made his directorial debut with Paraiso, which recently made the Oscar Short Subject Documentary shortlist. Paraiso tells the story of Chicago high-rise window washers, many of whom are immigrants, most coming from a small town in Mexico. "The film," related Kurtz, "explores why they have chosen this occupation, what their spiritual beliefs are given that they face their own mortality on a daily basis, and what they see inside those buildings, which lends itself to several funny stories."
Paraiso was co-produced by Kurtz's The Strangebird Company and Dictionary Films, which is part of the Cutters' family of shops. Kurtz noted that he would have never been able to bring the short film to fruition without the production resources of Dictionary and post support from Cutters. Kurtz continues to edit spots via Cutters, adding to credits that include collaborations with such directors as Tony Kaye (Blue Cross/Blue Shield), Vincent Haycock (Absolut), Sean Thonson (Central Dupage Hospital) and Jordan Brady (Chicago Crystal Meth Task Force). Kurtz is now also on the lookout for select shorts and other artistic projects he can direct.

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