Friday 30 October 2015

Halloween Window Cleaning & Eggs

Window cleaners, Frankenstein (Horemo Reyes) and the Wolfman (Jorge Estrada) pictured as they worked their way down the Wells Fargo’s Duke Energy Center.
Window washing monsters: A team of window washers from Scottie's Building Services celebrated Halloween by dressing up as Frankenstein (Horemo Reyes) and the Wolfman (Jorge Estrada) as they worked their way down the Wells Fargo’s Duke Energy Center on Friday October 30, 2015. Reyes, who has washed high rise windows for about 10 years says this is the first year he decided to work in costume.

How to clean egg off windows - Halloween Window Clean - Year after year our phone starts ringing after Halloween because trick or treat often means “give us a treat or we will egg your windows!”  Is a very sad state of affairs but don’t despair, here is our guide to cleaning egg from your windows.

How to clean egg off windows: The first point to make is that egg is like glue. When it drys it really takes some shifting.  So if you see egg on your windows the first thing to do is to clean it off before it drys.  This can be done just by squirting your window with a hose pipe.  It will leave a horrible drying mark, but at least this will come off easily when your windows are next cleaned by your regular window cleaner. If it is a downstairs window that you can reach, use soft sponge and some washing up liquid.  Allow it to dry a little then buff up the window with some kitchen towel.

If you are unfortunate and the egg has dried onto the window then it is going to be a little more tricky.  If the window is downstairs and you can reach, the best tool to use is a decorators glass scraper.  These are available from most DIY stores for about a pound.  Scrape the glass and finish by cleaning the window as described above.

If the window is upstairs and you don’t want to risk getting the ladder out, then wait for your window cleaner to arrive.  To be honest once the egg dries on the glass then it will no more tricky to remove the egg from the glass if you wait days or weeks.  Good window cleaners will have a professional window cleaners scraper that fits onto a pole. The window cleaner can then remove the egg from the glass safely.  It isn’t worth purchasing the tool your self as a pack of blades for a professional window cleaners scraper will set you back £20.00 and in many cases this alone outweighs the price of the window cleaner removing the egg for you.  The window cleaner will also be more used to using a scraper at a distance and will more than likely do a better job.

Eggs are difficult to remove from a home's exterior, especially when they dry. However, with some elbow grease and proper preparation, you can simplify the egg removal process.
How to Wash Egg off a House (Wall):  Egging a house has been a longtime prank of vandals. As anyone who has been the victim of egging can attest to, eggs are difficult to remove from a home's exterior, especially when they dry. However, with some elbow grease and proper preparation, you can simplify the egg removal process. Here are some suggestions for how to wash egg off a house. 

1. Start cleaning your house as soon as possible. The longer the eggs are on your house, the more they will stick to the exterior surfaces. Due to their high moisture content, eggs remove somewhat easily when the egging is fresh. Prepare cleaning supplies as soon as you notice that your house has been egged.

2. Prepare a bucket of warm water. The water should not be hot. Hot water will cook the eggs and make them stick even more to the exterior of your home. Eggs are protein-based, so they cook quickly (and stick quickly) when exposed to heat. A bucket of warm water from the faucet will give you a good start in removing the egg from your home.

3. Hose the eggs off the exterior of your house. Get out the garden hose and spray the area below where the eggs are present on your siding or other surface. By washing down the area below the eggs, you are creating a surface that they can run down once they are removed. If you don't hose down the area below the eggs, they may stick to the siding. After washing below, spray directly above the egged area. Many times the water running down the surface of the siding is enough to remove the eggs. If you choose to directly spray the egged area without spraying anything else, you run the risk of splattering the eggs and making a worse mess on your home.

4. Use a cleanser with a high alkaline base to scrub the eggs. Sometimes the eggs won't come off any other way than scrubbing them. A cleanser with a high alkaline base works well to break down the protein structure of the egg. Many household cleaners or de-greasers are effective. Look at the pH level in each product. The higher the pH level, the higher the alkaline content.

5. Scrub the area with a brush. Dip the brush into the cleanser or spray the cleanser on the scrub brush, then rub the eggs off of the house's exterior. If necessary, use a long-handled brush or a ladder to reach stains. Rinse the area with warm water. If the stains persist, scrub harder. If the eggs have dried, you may have to scrub and rinse several times to remove them. Repeat this step several times, if necessary.

Thursday 29 October 2015

Braving The Shave

A team of window cleaners will swap buckets of water for the barber's chair to raise money for a children's charity.
Window cleaners brave the shave for charity: Eight members of staff from JA Lee Windows will take on the Brave The Shave challenge in aid of Macmillan Cancer For Kids tomorrow. The team will all have their hair cut at Mane Street Barbers in Cockermouth and want to raise at least £2,000.

Andrew Lee, JA Lee's owner, said he had been affected by cancer and he wanted to help the charity.
He said: "I lost my father to cancer when I was 18 or 19 and I also lost an uncle and family friends to it. I saw the film The Fault In Our Stars as well as an advert for Macmillan and I decided I wanted to do something. "I then found out about Brave The Shave so we signed up to do it and set up all the lads with sponsorship."

The Brave The Shave campaign's aim is to encourage people to shave their heads and stand alongside men and women who have the illness. The window cleaners have had to resist the temptation to get a haircut until now and have been growing their locks ahead of the day.

Ready for the off: Andrew Lee prepares to have his head shaved by window cleaners. You may recognise Andrew when he was on the committee for the FWC (Federation of window cleaners).
Andrew added: "We've had a good response. The lads have been getting sponsorship and when I told them I was doing it seven out of nine staff said they'd do it. "This is the first time I have done this. I've done sponsored bike rides and sponsored swims in the past, but I've never done this kind of thing.  "I just hope my hair doesn't grow back grey! I agreed to go first and I'm going to buy the lads a lunch." The group will also go round Cockermouth tomorrow to collect donations and hope members of the public and local businesses can help them reach their target. To donate go here.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Getting Your Balls Back & Out Of A Vice

Life can make it hard to see a future beyond what you have. Sometimes you just need a squeegee. 
How I Helped My Husband Get His Balls Out Of A Vice (By Pamala J. Vincent): I’d had it with the negative comments, the lack of desire, and his lack of purposefulness. I sat across the table from him and asked, “What happened to your smile? Where did it go?” His animated answer caught me off guard, “Work is exhausting and I’m tired of feeling like my balls are in a vice.” I said, “Then quit. I’m willing to sleep in a tent if it brings your smile back.”   

Sanity won out. He didn’t quit, but it opened discussions about this stage of life we find ourselves in. I love my man. He works hard to support us. We’re a two income family and both of us were working more hours than allowed us to live life. He’d reached the point of exhaustion working for someone else, and constantly feeling cautious that he might step out of line and lose his job, our health insurance, and his retirement. 

Some companies might be outstanding to work for, aware of the frontline worker who keeps them in business, but often once companies move beyond the ‘family size’ they become more about numbers and forget that it’s people who make them successful. All of a sudden the things we owned, seemed to own us. In an effort to help take back his power, I asked him, “If you didn’t do this job, what else would you want to do?” 

He had also reached a point in his life where the things of our twenties and thirties were the things of our twenties and thirties. We no longer are the couple who could play five softball games in one day, come back and do it for a championship on Sunday and still walk on Monday. The kids were off to college, and retirement is still years away…Now what? We weren’t ready to sit in recliners every day after work only looking forward to America’s Got Talent, or the ten o’clock news. 

After much discussion, he created a bucket list and answered the question, “If I lose this job, what else would I do?” He surprised me when he said he would like to wash windows. Being a naturally charismatic guy, I knew customers would love him. He did some research on what it took to be a good window washer, and found the supplies. For Christmas that year, I bought his company name, set up his business bank account, and business cards. We bought him a work truck and we plastered his business name and number on it. 

He started slowly doing bids, got the jobs and I did the scheduling and billing. Before long he was making more in a few hours a day than he did all day at his warehouse job. He’s taken his power back. During job negotiations, he refused to take a salaried position knowing once that happens, they dictate your hours. His new perception of his control over his life helped him take a stand that is better for him. I know my guy is not unique. Many men feel so responsible for their families they stay stuck in a job for more years then they should, and their dreams begin to die. There’s nothing wrong with being a responsible partner that supports a family, but dreams can make working to live bearable. 

But an amazing thing happened. The business grew faster than we could keep up. Before long, I was washing windows along side him. He no longer worried about what he would do if his warehouse business shut down, or he got frustrated enough to quit. His bucket list began to grow. In high school he was a competitive surfer. He’d surfed all of Oahu, but had always wondered what it would be like to surf other famous spots. So he added, Malibu, Maui, Huntington, Kauai, the Big Island, Australia, and Baja. To date, he’s surfed all those spots save the last two. His business is growing, we’re having a blast working on our bucket lists and the best thing yet is—his smile is back. 

Tuesday 27 October 2015

Wagtail Sweeps International Awards

Willie Erken of Wagtail sweeps cleaning awards at Pulire/Ausclean/Inclean. Click to enlarge.
The smallest innovation at AUSCLEAN creates improved efficiency and productivity: The Ausclean- Pulire 2015, held 20 and 21 October at Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast, was a stand-out show with the atmosphere alone creating the perfect networking environment. Exhibitors and visitors alike appreciated the open-plan floor space; barista coffee cart; the business lounges for client meetings; the networking drinks after day one of the show; and of course the delicious complimentary canapés that kept everyone well-fed for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea across both days.

Willie Erken & Wagtails right hand man, Leigh Thomas at the show dinner. Click to enlarge.
On a busy day one of the show, INCLEAN editor Kim Taranto accompanied guest judges John Taylor from The Cleaning Supply shop and Kevin Schilling from Lynch’s Cleaning Service and board member of the Building Service Contractors Association of Australia (BSCAA) Qld division, to judge the INCLEAN Innovation Awards.

Criteria for the Innovation Awards are that the nominated product should be ‘evolutionary’ in terms of delivering improved performance, on-site productivity, safety and/or environmental sustainability; and the last requirement is that it is readily available in the Australian marketplace.

Pictured from left: Judge John Taylor, Wagtail’s Willie Erken, INCLEAN editor Kim Taranto and judge Kevin Schilling.  Wagtail took two awards at the show. Click to enlarge.

The judges visited each nominated product at its stand to select the winner of each category – cleaning agents; equipment; services and technology; and janitorial. There were no entries into the paper and dispensing category this year. The judges deliberated for four hours, having to revisit particular stands as they found it difficult to select an overall winner from the successful category victors.

The 2015 INCLEAN Innovation Award was presented to Willie Erken for the Wagtail Water Fed Cleaning System, comprising of two water fed pivot action tools for ease and speed in cleaning windows. “The water-fed precision squeegee cleans to the edge of the window without the need for detailing,” explained Willie. It was this small design change that grabbed the judges’ attention.

Wagtail were inundated with awards at the show.
“Creating a squeegee that details cleaning right to the very edge of the window might seem like a small and insignificant thing, but it certainly is ‘evolutionary’ when it comes to window cleaning,” remarked John Taylor. “The minutes saved by each cleaner would add up over time to become a significant efficiency which increases productivity and saves the contractor money.”

With our industry taking leaps and bounds in I.T. software advancements and robotic machinery, it is sometimes the smallest of innovations that makes the cleaners’ job easier and Willie’s precision squeegee is testament to that.

Congratulations to all INCLEAN Innovation Award winners!

INCLEAN Innovation Award winner: Wagtail Precision Glide Water-fed System (Squeegee) & the Janitorial category: Wagtail Precision Glide Water-fed System.
Precision Glide anyone?

INCLEAN Innovation Award winner: Wagtail Precision Glide Water-fed System (Squeegee)Janitorial category: Wagtail Precision Glide Water-fed System
Cleaning agents category: Wee-Off by Bio Natural Solutions
Equipment category: Drymatic II by Drymatic
Technology: JGID Software by Just Get It Done

The top award from Inclean at the show. Innovation Award winner was Wagtail Precision Glide Water-fed System (Squeegee)

Monday 26 October 2015

Company Fined For Death Of Window Cleaner

Kevin Dolan plunges through open floor-to-ceiling window of Pountney Hill House while cleaning huge glass pane from inside without harness.
Window cleaner falls to his death from third storey of Grade II-listed building: A window cleaner plummeted to his death from the third-storey window of a Grade II-listed building in the City after bosses failed to ensure safe working conditions, a court heard. Kevin Dolan, 57, fell to his death through the open floor-to-ceiling window of Pountney Hill House, in central London, while cleaning the huge glass pane from the inside. The Old Bailey heard his death on October 18, 2012 was caused by a lack of safety measures, such as harnesses or rope access.

Surrey-based cleaning company Blades (London) Ltd took immediate responsibility for his death and pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety Act. Directors Bob Sawyer, Darren Sawyer and James Curtis sat at the back of court as their business was handed a £45,000 fine. Judge Richard Kramer QC said: "Nothing this court can does today can, sadly, turn the clock back. Moreover, it is insidious to try to place a value on the loss of life."

Mr Dolan had been working in the four-storey office block when he fell from an open third-storey window. The window opened into the room like a door, so it was possible to clean from the inside - although there were no barriers to prevent a fall, prosecutor Alastair Smith said. The court heard there was no rope access, no harnesses and no fall arrest or restraint. There were "eye bolts" built into the building, but they were not being used. Mr Smith added: "The method attempted was almost certainly the quickest, but almost certainly the least safe."

Mr Dolan was a close personal friend of the Sawyer brothers and Curtis, who opened the commercial cleaning company in 2007. The firm specialised in providing services, including window cleaning, to commercial premises in the City of London and relied heavily on subcontractors. Mr Dolan was described as more experienced than his bosses, who would turn to him for advice.

Their barrister Mark Balysz said: "The company is devastated by the loss of their friend and is truly sorry for it." He said the windows at Pountney Hill House had been cleaned in the same way for many years, adding: "It took the death of a friend to realise the risk to which they had put themselves, Kevin and others."

Blades (London) Limited, of Wallington, pleaded guilty to a single charge of breaching general duty to an employee under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was fined £45,000 and ordered to pay £7,500 costs.

Friday 23 October 2015

Industry Veteran Asks Questions

Another Window Cleaner Falls Off Building. Why?
Another Window Cleaner Falls Off Building. Why? In Sydney, another major accident has occurred involving window cleaners and façade access equipment. Two cleaners were left in critical condition after the building maintenance unit (BMU) cradle they were working in fell 12 floors onto the street awning below. One man was crushed under the cradle and the other wound up dangling over the edge of the awning.

This is on the heels of another accident in August where a window cleaner fell off the Apple store in Sydney. He was using rope access methods to clean the façade. He too amazingly survived but with serious injuries.

Are these types of accidents going to be the norm? Do authorities require a death before they act? I’m amazed that after the Apple store accident, the working at heights industry has had no contact directly or indirectly from the agency that is meant to govern workplace safety in NSW, WorkCover. Where are the WorkCover inspectors or educators? Absolutely nothing is being done to improve safety for the thousands of people who work at heights across Australia.

I see the extent of the problem daily. It may be a lone window cleaner working on the facade of a 60-floor apartment building, a plasterer finishing a ceiling while standing on a ladder on the edge of a balcony, or a fall protection anchor point that pops out when being load tested for annual certification.

We need immediate action; to begin with, WorkCover should be inspecting all buildings in Sydney to ensure the façade access and fall protection equipment is in compliance. Also, Government needs to sit down with industry bodies like the Working at Heights Association, IRATA and ARAA, and they need to comprehensively review working practices and standards. This needs to be done now. If we act quickly, we may be able to save someone’s life. If not, I believe it’s just a matter of time before the next accident is a fatality.

Contributed by Andrew Ferguson (KARABINER): Andrew is an expert in Fall Protection, Rope Access and Façade Access Equipment and has been working in these sectors for since 1991. Andrew has worked on large and prestigious commercial construction projects in Australia, Middle East and Asia. He’s experience also extended to the miming, oil and gas sectors.

With 24 years experience there are many first from Andrew and his expert teams, both Karabiner and XSPlatforms. Innovation has always been one of the key elements in his success in solving many of the most difficult access scenarios put up by industry. Such as green facades with 20 tones annually of waste and vegetation to be removed and replaced, glass roofs with complex atrium spaces, large façade art installation, buildings with counter-leveed façades, merging new construction into heritage buildings and a mirrored of architectural features never contemplated just a few years ago. Tackling commercial construction faces many modern challenges however it can be simpler than in the miming, oil and gas sectors where everything is made more complicated by site remoteness, tight program’s and the shear scale of the projects. 

Andrew was a founding member of the Australian Rope Access Association, sat on the WorkCover committee reviewing Façade Access, Working at Heights and Rope Access in NSW. He also sat on the Australian Standards Committee which develop the first Australian Standard for Rope Access (AS4488), his company Karabiner was a (past) member of IRATA and now he is a member of the Working at Heights Association (WAHA) and part of the team developing the ‘Industry Code – Permanent Anchors, Lifeline and Rail Installations’.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Michael Kelly - Still A Sky Ninja?

Australian media has been putting out window cleaning stories after the recent scare: Mike Kelly, a window washer records a stomach churning video down a Chicago building.
Window washer records stomach-churning down Chicago building: Extreme window washing is deemed as a terrifying job, well Michael Kelly can second that claiming that "it looks really hard, but it’s (actually) a lot harder than it looks."

The US man attached a GoPro to his helmet and filmed a 20 minute stomach-churning video, posting it to YouTube on Monday showing people what it is like wash high-rise windows on a building located in the Financial District of Chicago. You can hear the distress in Mr Kelly's voice before even beginning his decline, "this is my last drop of the day, probably of my life, because I don’t want to do this anymore."

"First we gotta do this 21st floor window, then swing in again to get the 20th floor and it gets a little easier on the way down," Mr Kelly said while he was contemplating a change of career. Mr Kelly can be seen sitting in a small, wooden seat as he guides himself down the stone wall the building by a sturdy rope staring down at the 100-metre drop.

He then uses a suction tool to grasp hold him close to the window as he sloshes soapy water onto the window. The window cleaner wipes the suds off with a wiper blade a few times and swings on to the next window, as the streets of Chicago stare him directly in the eyes. Mr Kelly has ropes that are tied down the bottom so he doesn’t swing out and hit a car, he also mentions in the video that it gets a little easier the further down he is.


I guess Mike Kelly did pack the job in? Perhaps the money just wasn't good enough to keep him in the job. As opposed to the news story above, the video above & featured in the news story is more than a year old. The skyninja website has now gone & only his "flickr" pictures remain, the newest from 2011. This video below is an old news piece on him. Marcus Leshock profiles Michael Kelly, a Chicago window washer who takes photos while he works. He used to sell prints on his website at (now gone).

Some of Mike Kellys photos. Click to enlarge.
Mike Kelly may have even been the inspiration behind the 2012 best short documentary directed by Nadav Kurtz called 'Paraiso' (Paradise) & featured in a previous blog (here as well) & is a documentary about immigrants working on Chicago’s tallest buildings as window washers.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Sydney Window Cleaners Will Survive

David Wilson, 56, and Colombian native Edwin Acero-Dastellanos, (pictured) 35, plunged to street level yesterday as they cleaned windows high atop the Australian Stock Exchange building on Pitt Street.
‘They’re not fine but they’ll be OK’ owner of window cleaning business claims of fallen workers: The owner of the window cleaning company two men were working for when they plummeted 12 storeys in the Sydney CBD yesterday said they “will be OK” as they recover in St Vincent’s Hospital.

Ultra Clean Services manager Nick offered a “no comment” over the incident which remains under investigation. “They’re in intensive care,” he said. “They’re not fine but they’ll be OK ... they’re in a stable condition.”

David Wilson, 56, and Colombian native Edwin Acero-Dastellanos, 35, plunged to street level yesterday as they cleaned windows high atop the Australian Stock Exchange building on Pitt Street.

The anchor points of the metal cage the men were in and which gave way.
It is believed a cable holding the metal cage they were working in snapped — sending the pair into a terrifying near free-fall. They suffered extensive injuries and were rushed to St Vincent’s yesterday in a serious but stable condition.

Prior to his miracle survival, Mr Acero-Dastellanos had proudly shared photos of himself up in the clouds above the Harbour City, one he has made home with his young family. In a photo he shared with friends in 2012, Mr Acero-Dastellanos can be seen enjoying the spectacular view over Sydney as he cleaned windows along one of her main streets.

Colombian native Edwin Acero-Dastellanos clearly has a head for heights but was lucky to survive yesterday after he plunged towards the ground when the window cleaning cage he was using gave way.
The thrillseeker loves heights and has also shared photos of himself hang gliding. The lucky window cleaner is also a joyous young father who boasted in 2012 about how his baby daughter had learned to crawl.

The injured window cleaners were taken to St Vincents Hospital and are in a stable but serious condition. A fire Rescue NSW spokesman said both men were conscious and responsive when they were rescued. The accident happened during lunchtime peak-hour, with large crowd gathered in the area. Police had to close Pitt Street as a precautionary measure. 

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Sydney Window Cleaners Scaffold Cable Snap Horror

One of the window cleaners is attended to by paramedics as he lays on the roof of a ute.
Morning horror: Window cleaners fall from tower block (Sydney): Two window cleaners were lucky to survive a 12-storey plunge from a high-rise building yesterday after the cable on the metal cage they were working in snapped. Bystanders rushed to help the badly injured men, one aged in his mid-20s and the other in his 50s, who had been cleaning windows on the Australian Stock Exchange in the Sydney CBD.

One of two injured male window cleaners is rescued by emergency services from the scene.
After a dramatic rescue they were taken to St Vincent’s Hospital with leg, back and internal ­injuries. Both were described as “serious but stable”. Witnesses said the pair plummeted from near the top of the 55m-high ASX building at the corner of Pitt and Bridge Sts, with one of the men crashing onto an awning with the cage on top of him while the other was left dangling by his harness from the awning.

The other window cleaner, out of view, is attended to by paramedics as he lies on the awning above the street.
A plumber who wanted to be known only as Matthew said: “I saw a guy hanging close to the ground from his harness, then someone drove a ute (utility vehicle) under the awning to help get him down. “A lot of people tried to help him. They were touching his feet to see if he was OK.”

It is understood that the window cleaners’ platform collapsed, sending them plummeting onto an awning.
One of the cleaners was moved on top of the ute so that he could be stabilised before rescuers arrived, and a ladder was used to reach the older man on the awning. The older man was ­retrieved by a Fire and Rescue NSW cherry picker and stretchered to an ambulance.

Emergency rescue officers remove one of two injured male window cleaners.
Mathew Halpin, who was conducting fire safety maintenance on a nearby building, said there was a huge bang when the men landed. “About an hour before that I saw them cleaning the windows,” he said. “They were about three-quarters of the way up the building.”

Con Triantafillou, who works across the road, said: “We all looked out the window, the cable had snapped and we saw the whole scaffold with two guys plunge straight down. We heard the thump.” The younger man who was dangling by his harness is understood to have back and internal injuries and the older man lower leg injuries.

Members of the public hold ropes to secure the cage that two window workers fell from while emergency services rescue the men.
Another witness said both men were moving after the ­accident but there was a lot of blood on the cage. “If the harness wasn’t there he probably would have died,” he said. “The tough thing was because they were so high up nobody could really help.” 

Police speak to members of the public as they watch the window cleaners being rescued.
NSW Ambulance acting superintendent Brad Goodwin said: “Both men were conscious and responsive when ambulance and emergency services arrived. “They fell from close to the top of the building ... they are very lucky (not to have been killed).” A representative of the cleaning company said he understood both men were “stable” but did not comment further.

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