Window washing at height – equipment and safety

Window washing at height – equipment and safety

Under the principles that protect the living environment, the habitat and in general the environment, you must adopt certain habits often dictated by the law. The durability of your single-storey buildings depends on the maintenance of the different parts that make up these buildings. In the particular case of buildings built with a massive use of glass, several rules are established to allow the owners to protect not only the lives of users and populations, but also the solidity of these buildings. The washing of exterior windows remains a rather worrying and very delicate situation because of the issues that surround it. This article highlights the essential notions that you can remember about the subject.

Window washing, a legal provision

The authorities establish through the law Law C-122, the maintenance of the facades of buildings. Indeed, under this standard, all building owners with more than 5 floors above ground must have the facades inspected every 5 years. Based on the principle that the height of these buildings makes them more vulnerable despite their solidity, the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) must carry out a periodic inspection. All buildings with at least 5 floors and even multi-storey parking lots must not escape this control. The latter reveals the importance of ensuring that the buildings in question do not represent a danger to the safety of the public.

The importance of the register

6 months after the construction of a building of at least 5 floors, you can already carry out an inspection, and this proves to be essential 10 years at the latest, on the 10th anniversary of the construction of the building. This control results in the creation of a building register which will be updated regularly. The register testifies to the owner’s efforts to ensure the inspection and maintenance of the facades and therefore the exterior windows of the building. The register essentially contains :

  • The contact details of the owner ;
  • A copy of the construction work carried out on the facades of the building if available as well as photographs, documents or any other type of information relating to the modifications made ;
  • A description of the repair, maintenance or modification work carried out on the facades ;
  • The verification reports of the facades.

The working methods

The increasing number of buildings with a large glazed area requires not only the intervention of the owners, but also, and especially that of window washers, maintenance companies and sometimes tool rental companies so that the washing takes place safely. To facilitate the task for the cleaners and especially to set up good conditions, several working methods exist in the field.

Permanently installed equipment

In the construction of certain buildings with glazed facades, the owners sometimes provide for permanently installed structural elements to support the equipment that facilitates access at height to the washers. These elements are integrated into the exterior architecture of high-rise buildings. The advantage with this type of installation lies in the fact that not only can the washers access the height of the exterior windows at all times, but they can also clean them more easily and regularly without any hassle. Likewise, in addition to cleaning companies, this installation can be used for other purposes such as repairs, renovations, etc. In addition, it is an equipment built according to engineering standards, and therefore it guarantees safety to users.

Removable equipment

Very often, the owners have the cleaning work carried out with removable equipment, that is to say movable. In this case, the window washing is carried out by means of equipment that the washers move from one building to another. For this, the owners or companies rent the equipment from companies specialized in scaffolding. This method of work nevertheless presents several risks because their condition can deteriorate at any time. Their manual installation can also suffer from a few inattentions or bad sequences.

The different types of equipment for cleaning exterior windows

Several pieces of equipment are used in both types of installations for washing the glass facades of high-rise buildings. The roof cabins and davits constitute the structural elements mainly used in the permanent installation. Some models are mounted on rails along the perimeter of the roof. It is a monorail system that facilitates the movement of equipment around the building. Safety anchor points increase the individual protection of workers against falls. The washers need it to hang their horizontal lifeline. It is a fall protection system: anchoring system. The equipment of the removable installations consists essentially of suspended and lifting platforms, fifth wheels, aerial platforms and other accessories. The design, installation and use of platforms and harnesses require technical competence and compliance with several standards. The main thing is to give preference to tailor-made equipment that allows you to ensure regular maintenance of the glass facades of your building. Permanent window washing systems include a wide range of equipment including roof cabins mounted on rails, davits and their bases, monorails, safety anchors for prevention and fall protection, beams and counterweights.

Personal safety and equipment maintenance

Regardless of the chosen working method and the type of equipment used, you must prevent falls and hazards. The law obliges to opt for quality instruments whose installation is ensured by technicians and the use by professionals in the field of cleaning the glass facades of high-rise buildings.

The safety of the workers is very important and the owners as well as the employees must put in place a secure system. This necessarily involves the acquisition and use of high-quality equipment. Likewise, the equipment must benefit from regular maintenance which aims to detect any faults and make repairs before their next use. In other words, you must regularly maintain the various equipment used in order to limit the risks of falls, work accidents. The washing companies as well as the owners must take insurance that protects their structures and all their workers.

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