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Window washer's death in central Minnesota raises safety concerns

For the last few years, the Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration has made efforts to improve the safety of a risky, but necessary, profession: window washing. Three Minnesota window washers passed away as the result of an on-the-job accident between 2009 and 2011. Unfortunately, one more person recently died after falling while completing a window washing job in St. Cloud.

Reports indicate that a 56-year-old man fell 70 feet while washing windows at a hotel. Emergency service personnel arrived at the scene of the work-related accident, but the worker was unable to be resuscitated. The incident is believed to be an accident at this time.

In this case, the window washer was self-employed. He operated his business by himself, so obtaining workers' compensation survivor's benefits might be different than cases involving larger employers. Regardless, it may be valuable for the workplace accident victim's loved ones to determine what legal options they have.

This incident occurred after local OSHA officials created a program to target window-washing safety in 2012. Up to that point, no other states had made an effort to set specific standards for the window-washing industry. According to the St. Cloud Fire Department, the man in this case was wearing a safety harness at the time of the incident, so they will take time to determine what went wrong.

As OSHA officials sort through the details of this incident, they may also consider revising existing safety regulations for window washers. Even though Minnesota is already considered a leader in this respect, it may be possible to do more to protect the health and safety of workers.

Source: St. Cloud Times, "Man cleaning windows dies after 70-foot-fall at St. Cloud hotel," David Unze, Sept. 23, 3013

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