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Abseiling window cleaners hit height to keep city buildings gleaming

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It is a sight most city goers will no doubt have witnessed – a window cleaner abseiling down one of the tall structures that define urban skylines all over the world.

The thought for some will be rather knee-jerking, others exhilarating, but for the men and women who scale dizzy heights to keep windows gleaming, it’s just another day’s work.

Those who frequent Sheffield will likely have seen the abseil clean of the University of Sheffield’s Arts Tower, a reportedly twice-yearly feat taking ten days and covering more than 1,800 windows.

And in Leeds, abseiling window cleaners have recently been spotted working their way across the hundreds of windows at the Leeds College of Music campus.

The college, a leading European conservatoire, is situated in the Quarry Hill area of the city, and nine-storey accommodation complex Joseph Stones House towers above the main campus building.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, “for windows that are more difficult to reach the use of specialist access equipment will be necessary”. ‘Rope Access’ is one example.

“The advantage of using rope access methods lies mainly in the speed with which workers can get to or from difficult locations and then carry out their work, often with minimal impact on other operations”, the body’s website states.

“The Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA International) has in place a continuously evolving regime with procedures that members are required to follow, which are monitored for compliance to ensure a safe system of work is established and maintained.”

“It’s very exciting – I love the views,” one abseiling Arts Tower cleaner told Sheffield newspaper The Star in 2016. “I don’t think it’s scary but some of the people looking up think it is.”

With The Shard in London and among other buildings where ‘abseiling window cleaners’ have been spotted, it is certainly a job for which a head for heights is needed.

Technical details: Nikon D5 camera, Nikon 70-200mm lens with an exposure of 1/500th second @ f/4, ISO 250.