Gutter cleaning can be very unsafe for inexperienced and unprepared operators. Homeowners attempting to do the job themselves often risk serious injury, an incomplete job or even significant damage to gutters and roofs. Even professional gutter and maintenance cleaners need to aware of their responsibilities and liabilities when performing such a dangerous task.
Cleaning the gutters, not only makes a building look tidy, but it also extends the lifespan of the gutter, reduces the risk of fire and helps prevent water contamination, making wastewater treatment of rainwater systems safer. Fortunately for cleaning businesses, removing the mess that collects in gutters is not appealing to many homes or business owners. It might be a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.
Gutter cleaning, however, contains several risks. Anyone considering opening a business in this field should take the time to understand the important of a liability insurance. Not only will a liability insurance cover a sole contractor for any injury it will also cover the price of the property damage which occurs due to the business.
For example: say as a sole contractor, you are performing a cleaning when the ladder slips out from beneath you, leaving you dangling from the gutter. While you make it back to the ground, the gutter is recognisably damaged. Not only will gutter liability insurance cover the client’s broken gutter and property damages, but it also foots the bill if the client files a lawsuit. A lawsuit for many sole contractors could put them out of business, so you do not want to be put into this position.
In Australia, all cleaning services are required to be covered by public liability insurance, which covers damage to a client’s property, along with any resulting injuries to the public. Having insurance will protect both the individual employee involved in any action as well as the company from any party who might bring a claim against you.
If the cleaning business employs additional workers, then they should also be covered by workers compensation insurance. This will cover the employee from any problems as well as covering them in the case of injury or other damage.
The primary hazards relating to a gutter cleaning business, mostly involve the safety hazards of being above the ground. For professional cleaners, this can be quite high from multi-storied houses, to commercial buildings with many levels.
It is highly recommended that all workers and employees are trained in the specific relevant Operations, Health and Safety Procedures relating to their industry. All worker as also required to wear safety harnesses, as an additional precaution and many insurance policies would not cover businesses if they were operating illegally, such as deliberately not using the relevant safety equipment. All workers should be additionally trained in the ‘Work Safely at Heights’ qualification.
Above all when engaging in a dangerous job or practice like gutter cleaning, every individual should use their common sense to remain as safe as possible at all times. Sometimes using common sense can matter more than all the training or insurance policies.