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I know that in some parts of the world we tend to mock certain of the decisions made with regard to health & safety - and there are times when I, myself, feel the officials are going over the top, but a Facebook friend sharing a BBC clip of the cleaning of Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square, in the 70s, showed me just how far things have come in terms of ensuring that we can work as safely as possible: BBCArchive/videos
In this clip, Blue Peter's John Noakes is supervised as he joins regular cleaners on their climb to the top of this 169ft. 3in. London landmark - using a series of wobbling ladders strapped to the column. None of them wore harnesses, gloves, helmets or safety shoes and there were no barriers or warning signs at the foot of the structure, to keep members of the public out of the way should anything untoward happen.
How the ladders were erected in the first place I have no idea, but I shudder to think of the work and the danger involved. Even worse, the ladder that stretches from the top of the column to the top of the wide plinth naturally leans out from the structure at quite an angle, meaning that whoever's climbing it could be left swinging by their hands completely away from the ladder if they missed their footing.
The cleaning involved scraping off pigeon mess with a trowel and into a bucket, which was lowered down the column on a rope...
How times have changed! Or have they?
Another friend shared a picture taken by Londoner Pete Newman of a window cleaner working some 50ft. up without a harness.
He's holding onto the window to help his balance and is kneeling on the ledge of a wall as he works. Apparently he was working for some 15 minutes. Some people never learn, do they?
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25th October 2018