What you need to know if you’re working from height

Window Cleaning Liability Insurance

If you work from height, sourcing the right insurance can prove difficult. At Polished Insurance, we have the expertise and we understand the requirements of high access cleaning, we have researched and created a bespoke insurance policy exclusively for the cleaning industry, with all aspects covered, including working at height.

Working at Height

Sourcing the right public and employer’s liability insurance for your business can prove much more difficult if you work at height. Many insurers impose restrictions and will have a maximum height level in place within an insurance policy that restricts the heights that you can work from to be adequately covered. This can often restrict the types of cleaning jobs that you can work on.

It is accepted by most liability insurance companies that working at ‘height’ is necessary for many contract cleaning companies, however this is limited in most cases to a maximum height of a stepladder, and this is not practical for many businesses.

Why you need to read the small print?

At first glance it may seem that your existing policy doesn’t state that there is a working at height limit, however there can be additional restrictions within your policy that could exclude any high access work. For example, there may be a condition in your policy that excludes any bodily injury, loss or damage arising out of the use of lifting platforms, ropes, cradles, or harnesses, thereby excluding working at height. Ultimately you could be carrying out this often-dangerous work without being adequately covered and your business could be at risk.

Why it is essential you understand your regulatory and insurance requirements.

As an employer who is in control of any work at height activity you have certain responsibilities. These responsibilities include:

  • Making sure that any jobs that involve working from height are properly planned, supervised, and are carried out by competent people.
  • Ensuring that the right type of equipment is used for working at height.
  • Carrying out a risk assessment of the specific job.

With cleaning jobs where a more technical level of competence is required, existing training and certification schemes drawn up by trade associations within the industry is one way to help demonstrate competence.

In the case of shorter, less risky, cleaning jobs where ladders are used, the competence requirements may be no more than making sure that your employees receive instruction on how to use the equipment safely. For example, understanding how to secure a ladder at the top and bottom properly and ensuring that appropriate training is undertaken to complete the task, this often takes place on the job.

If you are working at height and need rope access, most insurers will want confirmation that:

  • The work is supervised by a Level 3 IRATA qualified person
  • The work is carried out by a Level 2 IRATA qualified person

Additionally, if you are working at height and are using mobile access platforms insurers will want confirmation that:

  • The work is carried out by a IPAF qualified person (holding a valid PAL card)
  • There is full compliance with Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER)

Working at height is a specialist area and understanding your policy conditions, warranties and exclusions and embedding these within your own health and safety processes is paramount.  At Polished Insurance, we have developed policies specifically for people working from height, regardless of the height you work from and can guide you through the small print, to ensure you are correctly protected in the event of a claim.