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Window washers brought to safety after getting stuck outside 17th floor of building
Two window cleaners were brought safely down from where they had been stranded for several hours on a faulty platform 17 storeys up a Californian building last Wednesday, following the combined efforts of the California Occupational Safety & Health Authority, Tractel scaffolding and the Orange County Fire Department.
A Cal/OSHA senior safety engineer was notified around 09.00 about a situation at 4 Park Plaza in which washers employed by Newport Window Cleaning had become trapped. Wire ropes suspending the cleaning crew's platform frayed, making the rope too wide in diameter for the motorised pulley system to raise or lower it.
The safety engineer consulted with Tractel and advised the Command Chief of the Orange County Fire Department. They secured the workers on the platform with harnesses before raising the platform by hand up to the rooftop.
Rescue ropes, brakes and pulley systems had to be inspected for any damage before the rescue operation could commence. The trapped workers also assisted Urban Search and Rescue-trained firefighters in securing the rescue equipment to their platform, despite having been trapped in the sun for hours. The rescue operation was completed around 13.00.
However, questions remain about what led to the incident in the first place. "It is important that all industrial equipment be checked regularly for deficiencies," said Acting Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum.
"Cal/OSHA will be conducting an investigation into how the wire rope problems developed, and why they were not identified before the ropes were put into use on Wednesday."
Citations and fines could be issued as a result of its investigation.
"Days like this truly make me proud that all the agencies involved in the incident worked together towards one common goal: employee safety," said Christine Baker, Director of the Department of Industrial Relations. "Their careful attention to the technical complexities in this situation helped save two lives."
Cal/OSHA helps protect workers from health and safety hazards on the job in almost every workplace in California. Employers who want to learn more about California workplace health & safety standards or labour law violations can access information on DIR's website.
9th October 2014