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Designers Knowledge Base


Consideration must be given during the design of windows to the hazards and risks associated with their installation and future cleaning, replacement and repair. Wherever possible the windows should be designed to ensure that these hazards and risks are eliminated or at least reduced.

In any structure containing windows particular consideration must be give to the methods to be used to gain access for both cleaning and replacement of the glazing. The health and safety file must describe how windows are to be accessed safely for this purpose. Therefore designers must give details of residual hazards and risks to the principal contractor for inclusion in the construction phase plan and the health and safety file so that the principal contractor and the client are aware of the need to manage them.

Hazards and Risks:

Consider method of:

Consider anchorage points provided for:

  • Safety harnesses
  • Ladders
  • Hoists
  • Other means of access to windows

Possible design options

Wherever possible, windows should be designed to be cleaned from inside the building providing that there is safe access internally. Ensure that there are measures taken to prevent the person cleaning the window from falling out such as the design and provision of anchorage points for a safety harness.

Where it is not possible to have windows which can be cleaned from a permanent safe platform, the ground or the floor, then ensure that the design provides for anchorage points for a safety harness and a safe means of tying ladders. Consideration should be given to the ground under the windows to ensure it is flat and able to provide a safe footing for ladders, access scaffolding, mechanical lifting platforms etc.

Where it is intended that the access for the cleaning replacement or repair of windows is to be by suspended scaffold, then the manufacturer's instructions and installation must be followed precisely and a full safety brief for its operation included in the Health and Safety File. Suspended scaffolding is dependent on the integrity of the structure to which it is anchored. This must be verified by reference to the Designer or to design information.

Other issues

Windows and glass should be designed and installed to the manufacturer's recommendations. The correct glass, storage methods and method of installation must be used to minimise the risk of fracture and breakage through thermal movement, vandalism and other forms of impact.

For example, the Building Regulations section NE should be referred to regarding glass strength and marking (manifestation).

All installed glass should be clearly marked until site work is completed to avoid accidental breakage during construction.

Relevant Legislation