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Federation of Window Cleaners Warns About Electrocution Risk

Federation of Window Cleaners Warns About Electrocution Risk
20 May 2024

The Federation of Window Cleaners has set up a meeting to discuss improved safety measures when window cleaners use water-fed poles near overhead power lines.

Extension pole manufacturers, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Electric Networks Association (ENA), and the Federation of Window Cleaners (FWC) will meet on 22 May to agreeing improved and robust safety measures on this issue.

In 2021 alone, two people died when water-fed poles inadvertently made contact with live wires, resulting in fatal electrocutions. In a third, recent incident, a former FWC member was electrocuted and seriously injured while using a water-fed pole near an overhead power cable.

“Every year, tragic incidents underscore the grave risks faced by window cleaners working near overhead power lines. These sobering events highlight the urgent need for collaborative action to enhance safety protocols in the window cleaning industry."

–Steve Kennedy

Vice Chair, FWC


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. Additionally, 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.Not all water-fed poles are tested and insulated against electrical hazards, and gloves or rubber boots cannot reliably protect against electrocution, especially when wet or dirty.

Steve Kennedy, Vice Chair of the FWC, said: “Every year, tragic incidents underscore the grave risks faced by window cleaners working near overhead power lines. These sobering events highlight the urgent need for collaborative action to enhance safety protocols in the window cleaning industry.

“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 is encouraging interested parties to get in touch if they wish to participate in this ongoing initiative. Contact FWC General Secretary Beryl Murray on 0161 432 8754 or email if you are interested in attending the 22 May meeting. 

Picture: a photograph showing three window cleaners working at height, cleaning a glass-fronted building. Image Credit: Unsplash


Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 20 May 2024


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