One of the types of dangerous jobs in New York is that of a commercial window washer. Below is a recent New York Times article that reports that Window Washers are in great deamd. The article also correctly notes that there are serious dangers in this type of job. Proper safety equipment is essential.
New York has laws to protect window washers if they are injured. At Hecht & Hecht, LLP, we have experience with these laws. We have been very sucessful for window washer clients in the past.
If you were working as a window washer and have been injured, please call our office at (212) 226-2400 for more information. We may be able to help.
Below is the New York Times Article for July 16, 2012. The author is ELIZABETH A. HARRIS.
July 16, 2012
WINDOW WASHERS ENJOY A SURGE IN DEMAND
By ELIZABETH A. HARRIS
On an average workday, Mikhail Karalatov might watch a person play music in the living room, though he will not be able to hear the notes. He could peer into a “15-room castle” on Fifth Avenue, he said, though he is not really supposed to look around. Or he might draw smiley faces with soapsuds as a child stares back at him in fascination. Oftentimes, people wave.
“And sometimes people cover their eyes and run away,” Mr. Karalatov said. “They are scared for you.”
That is because Mr. Karalatov is a window washer, and he generally encounters these things while dangling several stories above the sidewalk, rubbing and scrubbing to make the skyline sparkle. In recent years, he and his colleagues have become increasingly popular.
In the average apartment building clad in brick or limestone, windows can be washed from the inside, perhaps by a superintendent looking to make an extra buck. The facade is generally cleaned somewhere between every 40 years and never. But glass buildings must be washed about twice a year, lest they look as if they were covered with giant smudged thumbprints, and the windows on a towering residential building, 50, 60, even 70 stories above the ground, are far too dangerous for the casual cleaner.
So as recent architectural trends around New York City have spawned apartment buildings both taller and glassier than in years past, at least one profession has been made very happy.
“It’s perfect, I would say,” said Mark Imankulov, a manager of Prime Window Cleaning, where Mr. Karalatov is employed. “Everybody wants a big picture window with a huge piece of glass.”
Robin Domanski, the manager of Chelsea Window Cleaning, agreed that its services were becoming more vital.
“It’s not just about going in, putting on booties and tilting the windows anymore,” Ms. Domanski said. “The jobs are a lot more complicated now. Equipment needs to be bought and maintained, and people have to be trained on it.”
Window cleaning is, by its nature, a slightly awkward job. Tom Bulawa, manager of Apple Window Cleaning, likens the experience to avoiding eye contact on the subway. Typically, most residents are warned that there will be visitors dangling outside their bedrooms, and unless a resident waves first, Mr. Bulawa said, washers must keep their heads down and try not to notice what is happening on the other side.
But sometimes, others say, it cannot be helped.
A window washer, Mykhaylo Lazar, said on one job he saw a couple in an intimate encounter.
“I saw it, too,” his colleague Vasyli Ivaniuk said, adding, “It’s a good job, a really good job.”
Window washers reach their perches in various ways. There are tapered ladders and baskets hung from cherry pickers. In many older buildings, washers climb out a window wearing a special belt that attaches to hooks on either side. In larger new buildings, a scaffolding platform is kept on the roof and can be lowered, like a terrifying open-air elevator, when it is time to tidy up the sides. Another approach is to rappel off the roof clipped into what looks like a padded swing.
“Sometimes people see us and they say, ‘If you gave me a million dollars, I wouldn’t do what you do,’ ” said Dmitriy Chuyeshkov, a sturdy, blond 30-year-old who has been washing windows eight years. “But I would!” Unfortunately, he continued, no one has offered him quite that sum.
Generally, window washers make in the neighborhood of $20 to $30 per hour. Union workers, who are concentrated in commercial cleaning, start at $26 per hour. The time spent on a job can add up quickly.
The Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle takes two crews about three months to clean, and New York by Gehry, a 76-story rental tower on Spruce Street with rippling stainless-steel siding, takes six to nine months, depending on the weather — cleaning crews will stay indoors if conditions are too windy, for example. (Extell Development Company declined to describe its plans for washing windows at its One57 project, which at 90 stories will be the tallest residential building in the city when it is completed.)
Professionals say that a large job requiring several weeks of work might pay $50,000, and even a stout, five-story glass building that takes four days might be worth $5,000 or $6,000. Pricing, they say, depends on man-hours, equipment and the relative danger of the project.
And there can be dangers.
In December 2007, two brothers who were washing windows on the Upper East Side plummeted 47 stories to the ground, killing one but, remarkably, not the other. A few months later, a man fell 12 stories to his death. And just last week, two window washers got stuck on a scaffold about 40 stories above Avenue of the Americas in Midtown. Firefighters had to cut through the building’s glass siding to get them down.
“Window cleaning is dangerous,” Ms. Domanski of Chelsea Window Cleaning said. “Any which way, you’re hanging out a window.”
While the systems for hoisting cleaners into position and keeping them safe once they get there have grown more elaborate, Ms. Domanski said, other equipment used on the job has remained constant: The squeegee, the rag and their humble brethren have yet to be improved upon.
“We use Joy soap,” she said. “Dishwashing detergent is the best thing to clean glass.”