Whether it is word of mouth, a newspaper advert or searching online, finding a window cleaner for your commercial premises is easy. However, choosing a window cleaning team that have been trained and have the necessary qualifications, accreditations and experience to deliver a reliable, professional and safe service, can be harder.
Why does it matter?
Window Cleaning can be dangerous. Facilities Managers, Building Managers and other people that oversee window cleaning services must recognise and identify the risks associated with window cleaning and ensure that the safety of operatives, employees, customers and the general public is of paramount importance. These risks include but are not limited to; slips and trips from trailing hoses, falls from working at height and the use of chemicals and its impact on the environment.
There is a legal obligation. Health and Safety legislation places the responsibility of compliance on both the service provider and the person overseeing window cleaning services.
Whist price is obviously important, qualifications demonstrate that operatives have had the right training whilst accreditations demonstrate that the service provider has passed and complied with certain standards.
What Training and Qualifications should Window Cleaners Have?
As with many professions there are a plethora of training providers. With no regulatory body to determine the suitability, level and relevance of such training many window cleaners start a business offering services with no training or qualifications.
To choose the right window cleaning team it is important to firstly identify the method that will be used to clean your premises and then find a team that have been trained and are qualified to deliver the service
Traditional Methods. If it is a small shop or office and traditional methods are being used then ‘The Cleaning and Environmental Apprenticeship Scheme’ or a City and Guilds ‘Diploma in Cleaning and Support Service Skills’ will suffice.
Water Fed Poles. Many larger buildings including Schools, Hotels, Nursing Homes and larger offices are now cleaned using water fed poles. The British Window Cleaning Academy (BWCA) is the leading provider of water fed pole training and offers a range of courses. Speakers include Craig Mawlam, founder of The Reach and Wash System back in 1997, Director at Ionic Systems and who later launched the BWCA.
Working at Height including Abseiling and Mobile Platforms Training
IRATA certification has three levels. Level One enables a window cleaning operative to operate under the direct supervision of someone with a Level Three qualification. A Level Two IRATA trained window cleaner has demonstrated greater skills but must still only operate under the guidance of a Level 3 certified operative whilst a Level Three qualification enables the operative to work independently. It is advised that at least one operative on site has a Level Three certificate.
For larger buildings above ground height and where water fed poles cannot be used due to access or height, windows are usually cleaned using a mobile elevated platform. IPAF certification is specific to jobs that are dependent upon mobile elevated platforms and other powered equipment. Proof of accreditation is important to ensure some Public and Employer’s Liability Cover does not become null and void.
Continual Professional Development with Other Training Providers
Whilst initial training and qualifications demonstrate a commitment to the window cleaning industry, obtaining additional qualifications and more comprehensive training through continual professional development will not only enable the window cleaning operative to provide a more comprehensive range of services but also demonstrate a commitment to health and safety and compliance with new legislation.
The Federation of Window Cleaners offer a range of safety training courses. ‘Cleaning Windows Safely’ and ‘Risk Assessments’ are both accredited by The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH).
IOSH also offer their own Safety Awareness Course called ‘Working Safely’ that is delivered by The Workplace Health and Safety Advice Centre
Window Cleaning Accreditations
When sourcing a window cleaning provider it is important to find a company that not only say they will comply with health and safety legislation but provide proof of compliance.
Accreditation is a process in which certification of competency, authority, or credibility is presented and shows the buyer that the service has passed the certain industry standards, leading to a safer working environment and increased service levels.
Safe contractor and CHAS
Both Safe contractor and CHAS are the leading health and safety assessment schemes in the UK. The accreditation process involves the submission of a health and safety questionnaire and accompanying documents including;
Choosing a window cleaning company who is CHAS and Safe Contractor approved will ensure you comply with health and safety legislation and your responsibility to source a company who is compliant with health and safety laws.
This includes ISO9001, SAM (Safety Accreditation Membership of the Federation of Window Cleaners) and CSCS (Certification Scheme for the Construction Industry).
Adequate Insurance is a Prerequisite
Whilst not an accreditation it is important to ensure that the service provider has Public Liability Insurance and the cover is adequate for the methodology of work being carried out. Expiry dates, exceptions to training and restrictions of working at height need to be addressed prior to hiring any window cleaning company.
The Benefit of Having it in Writing
Just like any other procurement process, getting window cleaning quotations and proposals from service providers should include details of qualifications and accreditations and it should be abundantly clear. Whilst choosing the lowest price might seem the obvious choice it is worth considering the risks of engaging a company without insurance, no safety training, no accreditations with Safe Contractor or Chas. Apart from getting poor quality work there is a risk of non compliance with Health and Safety legislation and that could be costly.
LaddersFree and our team of operatives are highly trained and experienced in providing all types of window cleaning methods. We are Safe Contractor and CHAS approved and have an impeccable safety record. Copies of all Certificates and Insurance documents are provided with all quotations. Call our team on 0800 118 2830 to request a free quotation.
By Jason Korinek.