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Common Workplace Window Hazards

Posted in Work Injury on April 4, 2024

Sometimes, hazards in the workplace come from areas we least expect. Windows can become significant hazards in the workplace in various different ways and lead to a range of injuries or even death. Windows safety in the workplace is important regardless of the type of windows that may be present, as dangerous incidents can occur with basic windows as well as with specialty designer windows meant to increase the aesthetic appeal of a building. If you’ve been injured at work due to a window hazard, speaking with a Phoenix workers’ compensation attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve for your injuries.

Common Workplace Window Hazards

While we likely haven’t covered all of the possible workplace window hazards here, this list does give us a good breakdown of what could happen and what could potentially lead to worker or bystander injuries:

  1. Falls from heights. Falls through windows or from windows are among the most severe hazards, especially in buildings with multiple floors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) highlights the importance of implementing fall protection systems and ensuring that windows used for ventilation or access are equipped with sturdy guards or screens capable of supporting significant weight.
  2. Shattering glass. The risk of injuries from broken or shattered glass is a pertinent concern. Glass windows, when broken, can cause severe lacerations. Safety and health regulations often recommend the use of tempered or laminated glass to reduce this risk, as they are designed to stay intact or break into less dangerous pieces.
  3. Window washing accidents. Maintenance activities, such as window washing, present specific hazards, particularly for external windows on high-rise buildings. The International Window Cleaning Association advocates for strict adherence to safety protocols, including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and secure platforms or harness systems.
  4. Inadequate emergency egress. Windows can play a critical role in emergency evacuations. However, windows that are painted shut, locked, or otherwise non-functional can impede escape during emergencies. Fire safety guidelines emphasize the necessity for windows in sleeping and working areas to be easily openable from the inside without special knowledge or tools.
  5. Thermal and ultraviolet (UV) exposure. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight through windows can lead to discomfort, heat-related illnesses, or skin damage due to UV radiation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests the use of window treatments or films that can block or filter UV light and help regulate indoor temperatures.

Mitigating Window Hazards in the Workplace

As always, just about any injury that occurs in the workplace can be and should be prevented. Prevention starts at the top, with the owners of a business or property, but prevention does not stop at the top. Preventative safety measures should occur at every level of employment in order to keep every type of employee safe. Some window injury mitigation strategies include:

  • Implementing safety films and treatments. Applying safety films can strengthen glass windows, making them more resistant to impacts and less likely to shatter. UV-filtering films can also protect against harmful radiation.
  • Regular inspections and maintenance. Ensuring that window frames, locks, and opening mechanisms are in good working order can prevent accidents and improve emergency egress capabilities.
  • Educating employees. Providing training on the proper use of windows, particularly those designated for emergency exits, and on the risks associated with window cleaning or maintenance activities can enhance safety awareness.
  • Installing window guards or screens. For windows that pose a fall risk, installing guards or screens that meet OSHA’s strength criteria can be an effective preventive measure.
  • Adopting ergonomic designs. Considering the placement and design of windows to minimize glare and ensure adequate ventilation can contribute to a healthier work environment.