Is window cleaning a pain in the neck? MGWC to lead new research.



When you think about it, there isn’t a lot of information out there regards the correct posture and movement for the jobs that we window cleaners carry out day in, day out.

From using a water fed pole at dizzy heights to cleaning inside windows and storefronts with our humble squeegees.

It is true that some manufactures have worked ergonomics into their tool designs, namely the likes of Unger or Wagtail and now Moerman. But whereas these concentrate mainly on grip, there was little more information out there surrounding the person holding that tool.

Sure, manual handling guidelines come into play, the HSE and the FWC ( Federation of Window Cleaners) have perfectly feasible advice in handling a water fed pole. So too have the BWCA (British Window Cleaning Academy) that teach a rocking motion when using a water fed pole.

That was until 2015 when a white paper was commissioned by Perry Tait of Reach-iT with the intention of offering a GUIDE to water fed pole suitability.

The opening line of the white paper is a quote from the main author of the research, “Using a floppy water fed pole carries a higher risk of repetitive motion injury than using a more efficient, stiffer pole” – Dr. Douglas J. Mills, M.D.

This white paper was a very good comprehensive report outlining training, risks and a biomechanical evaluation. But there was something missing. Something the authors had no access to at the time of writing.

‘A Water Fed Pole Suitability Guide’, the name of the white paper by Tait and Dr Douglas centred on choosing the right water fed pole product for the job. All excellent information and guides, but the research needed icing on the cake.

Now with revolutionary technology the way we do things can be measured in real time, as you are doing the job! Powerful technology that measures human movement like never before, to give objective, easy to interpret data.

So what does this mean to window cleaners?

Over the years I have heard window cleaners succumb to work related issues and where it might be argued that any repetitive movement in any industry can throw up similar issues, our concern is the industry we are in.

Injuries range from wrist problems through the use of a squeegee, to shoulder pains through water fed pole use.

How do you know products on the market designed to reduce risk of work related injuries are doing what they say they claim? How do you know the posture and movement taught to you from whichever industry peer is actually helping?

Well now it can be measured.

This new technology is more powerful than any classroom manual handling training program, for our industry, it’s way more than that!

Imagine real time movement captured in the workplace, where you are able to see your own movement profile and understand how safely you are moving.

Imagine tiny instruments precisely measuring how people bend, twist and step, including accelerometers, magnetometers and gyroscopes.

Imagine these components, paired with patented algorithms, allowing you to accurately measure movement at a variety of different places on the human body with muscle activity sensors measuring the activity of muscles near the surface of the skin with adhesive electrodes.

Imagine wearable sensors, software and sophisticated algorithms that objectively measure movement and muscle activation at 200 frames per second. Anywhere.

Then, imagine easy understanding and consumption of the data output to a smartphone or iPad. At its simplest form resembling a heat map, green is good posture and movement and red is bad. Move and watch in real time until you get it right – GO GREEN!

Well that time and that technology is now and here today led by the MGWC and Window Cleaning Magazine, we have begun to set down talks with all parties involved in progressing this research. We are proud to have the lead role in translating what we do as window cleaners into a useful project scope.

The Master Guild of Window Cleaners (MGWC) is an association that is more than just a badge on your van. It’s not a discount club ‘for profit’ – it is a ‘not for profit’ organization like our friends the FWC and the IWCA. These organisations support and give back to the industry. They do this with Board members that are dedicated and passionate. MGWC, FWC and the IWCA are your real voices in the industry.

The MGWC (Master Guild of Window Cleaners) together with Window Cleaning Magazine will help to lead this new research and drive the program together with interested parties and its current stakeholders together with HSE involvement. Exciting times for the Guild and its members, and equally exciting for our Co Associations and Trade bodies.

You cant get such an unbiased team together for some real objective research that hopefully, one day, might change the way you work for the better.

It goes without saying that we will reveal more about the company behind the new technology in a Magazine profile and the research at the appropriate time. At this moment in time we are at the planning stage, something we all want to get right and with WCM TV documenting the whole thing from start to finish, this could be one of the most important collective learning that our industry has seen for a very long time.

Stay tuned for more.