21st March 2016
Office Window Cleaners – what Health & Safety measures you need to take…
Health & Safety is a subject that conjures many myths about what can and can’t be done in a place of work.
One common concern which is often the subject of ‘Health & Safety Gone Wrong’ pictures and GIFs is window cleaning.
So what should you be aware of when your window cleaning contractors show up for work?
The first thing to remember is that as the client of the contractor, you have an obligation to:
- Provide a safe place of work for the contractor to enter
- Check the contractor’s plans and safety documentation to ensure risks have been identified and control measures implemented to reduce them
- Share information with your contractor about on any hazards which may be present at your site (an asbestos roof, for example)
- Monitor the work undertaken by the contractor and report any concerns to them
The main area of concern when monitoring a window cleaning contractor will be – are they using ladders safely?
As the first rule of risk assessments is to remove the risk completely if possible, avoiding working at height (WAH) should be the priority for your window cleaner. This, coupled with the Health & Safety Executive’s (HSE) advice, will lead to many contractors utilising a telescopic water fed pole.
Other methods which may be used to avoid WAH include: cleaning windows from the inside, using window cleaning cables and using mobile elevated work platforms (MEWPs).
If your contractor is using any of these methods, it is important that the correct arrangements be made relating to: anchor points, checking the operatives have suitable training for the task in hand, and that any disruption to traffic, car park or otherwise, has been considered.
Traditional ladders may of course still be used where they have been identified as the most sensible and practical option for work conducted in low risk environments for relatively short periods of time.
We have already established that as the client you have an obligation to ‘provide a safe place of work for the contractor to enter’
Therefore, if you have specific tasks you wish your contractor to undertake, e.g. cleaning a glass dome above your reception area, you need to ensure additional safety measures have been considered. These could include any of the following elements:
- Allowing for the provision of additional relevant safety equipment
- Ensuring there are safe access routes to the areas that require cleaning
- If working on roof tops – are the contractors likely to encounter fragile surfaces or unguarded edges?
- Asking your contractor to undertake the work at times when the office is likely to be less busy