Hazard Related Topics
All windows (glass, Perspex or other material) in a building that are to be cleaned must be capable of being cleaned safely. The duty to ensure the safety of window cleaners is placed on:
- The window cleaner and his employer;
- The occupier of the building;
- The owner or person having control over the building.
The window cleaner must ensure that safe systems of work are followed and that appropriate training and safety equipment is provided. The window cleaner must also ensure that his employees can safely gain access to the windows for cleaning.
The occupier and owner of the building may also have responsibilities, depending on the layout of the building and any tenancy agreements that exist.
The extent of the responsibilities between employers and the owner of the building will depend on the individual tenancy agreement. The occupier (or owner) of the building should therefore ensure that the windows can in fact be safely cleaned. This will initially entail a meeting with the window-cleaning contractor to discuss methods of access and working arrangements.
There will be a duty to ensure that access to the windows is safe by, for example, the provision of eyebolts or fixed access equipment such as suspended cradles. The occupier or owner would also be responsible for ensuring that such equipment is properly maintained.
Windows may be cleaned from:
- The ground;
- Within the building;
- Outside the building from fixed access equipment.
If windows are to be cleaned from the ground, this is normally achieved by using portable ladders.
Ladders in excess of 9m should not be used to clean windows as they become unstable over this height and alternative methods of cleaning should be employed. Precautions should be taken to ensure that the ground around the building is suitable for use with ladders and that appropriate precautions are taken to ensure that vehicles etc do not strike the ladders. The ladders should also be secured to prevent slippage.
Access to the exterior of windows can be achieved from inside the building if the windows are fully pivoting. This method of cleaning is the safest and consideration should be given to providing these windows at the construction stage of the building. Alternatively, persons leaning or climbing out onto the window ledge may clean windows.
If this method is to be employed, the cleaner must be wearing a suitable harness attached to proper safety anchorage points within the building. It is the responsibility of the owner or occupier of the building to ensure that these anchorages are provided and that they are securely fixed and tested at suitable intervals.
Access equipment may also be provided on the outside of the building such as travelling ladders, cradles and boson's chairs. These are specialized methods of access, which require proper design, installation, and maintenance. Access to these areas should be safe and restricted to authorized persons only.
Access may also be gained by using scaffold towers, proprietary access platforms and Mobile Elevating Working Platforms (MEWPs).