high rise windows

Rope Access Window Cleaning

Rope Access Window Cleaning

Rope access window cleaning has been provided by LaddersFree since 2002. Our fully qualified rope access technicians are located across the UK including London, Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, and Cardiff.

By understanding what exactly rope access window cleaning is, the equipment required, the training and qualifications, the risks and the alternative methods for cleaning windows, you will be able to establish whether it is the right choice for your window cleaning requirements.

What is Rope Access Window Cleaning?

Rope access window cleaning, also known as abseil window cleaning, involves the use of ropes and specialist equipment in order to gain access to the windows of high buildings. The primary advantage of rope access over other methods of working at height is that work can be carried out quickly and safely with minimal impact on building occupants, and other buildings nearby. Not having to erect scaffolding or operate a cradle usually also makes rope access window cleaning the most effective solution.

What equipment is required to carry out Rope Access Window Cleaning?

The equipment used for rope access is in many ways similar to that used in mountaineering.

A safety helmet – this is a mandatory and is designed to protect the window cleaning operative against head damage, particularly from anything falling from above or impact with other obstacles.

Harness – there are several different kinds of harness. These include a Sit Harness, Chest Harness, or Full body Harness

Ascender/Descender – these are mechanical devices which allow the technician to ascend and descent on a rope.

Safety back-up device – this attaches to a second rope (the safety rope) and is designed to arrest any fall should other equipment fail.

What training and qualifications are required?

Window Cleaners embarking on a rope access training course must be physically fit and happy about working at height. The training standards are set by IRATA (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association) which operates a formal training and certification scheme.

Level One enables a rope access technician to undertake a range of specified rope access tasks that are supervised by a person with a Level Three qualification

Level Two is an advanced qualification that includes more complex rope access skills along with advanced rescue techniques

Level Three qualifies a person to take full responsibility for the safety of a rope access operation. It builds on the other levels and includes advanced rigging and rescue techniques and first aid training.

At LaddersFree all our abseil operatives are experienced and trained to the highest standards and comprise teams of operatives qualified at different levels.

Experience and Expertise

While IRATA training and qualifications are vitally important, so too is experience and expertise. It takes some time to build a reliable and skilful rope access window cleaning team, and one in which each operative plays a role and knows they can trust and be trusted by other team members.

At LaddersFree we have been doing this since 2002. Regardless of where your building is located, whether it is in the Scottish Cities of Edinburgh or Glasgow, the North of England in Manchester or Liverpool or in London, Bristol or Cardiff we have a local team.

While IRATA training takes you a long way, it is only through experience and expertise that you can go the extra mile. An exemplary safety record and many highly satisfied customers will ensure you get the service you are looking for.

Types of Buildings cleaned using Rope Access

A wide range of buildings are cleaned using rope access. These include high office blocks such as city skyscrapers like the Shard, factories and other commercial buildings, apartment blocks, shopping centres and atriums, historical buildings and church towers, university buildings, schools, hospitals, and other public sector buildings.

The Importance of Health and Safety

Whilst rope access is becoming an increasingly used window cleaning method, not all window-cleaning businesses understand its complexities. At LaddersFree we take health and safety seriously; in fact it is our first priority.

The codes of practice are described in British Standard Code of Practice BS 22846: 2012: “The use of rope access methods for industrial purposes.”

The first task is to decide whether rope access is the best method and that other safer methods aren’t appropriate, and to only undertake it if proper management is in place and that all operatives are trained and competent.

At LaddersFree all our rope access personnel are trained and experienced in carrying out their allotted tasks, and fully understand potential hazards. They are always aware of any potential problems and will always take appropriate actions to eliminate them.

Risk Assessments and Method Statements

We always produce a site specific risk assessment and method statement (RAMS) prior to commencing any work. This follows HSE and IRATA guidelines and takes account of risks, specifies rescue arrangements, communications, personal and equipment and can be presented for health and safety approval.

Safe contractor Approved

Safe contractor is an important UK government backed health and safety assessment scheme that assures clients that member contractors are properly insured and that their health and safety certificates and accreditations are in place. LaddersFree has received Safecontractor approval every year over the last six years. We are also CHAS Accredited.

Other Methods for Cleaning Windows on High Buildings

While rope access window cleaning offers many advantages, there are alternative solutions. These include Mobile elevated platforms, Cradles, Scaffolding and the high rise automatic window

Mobile Platforms have an IPAF qualified operator who controls a mechanical lifting system. Windows can be cleaned up to about 60 metres high however there is a cost associated to hiring equipment.

Suspended cradles are working areas that can be raised and lowered by winches. These can provide quick and convenient ways of accessing tall buildings with the advantage that they create no ground level obstructions. The disadvantage is that the cradles require maintenance.

Given its cost, inconvenience, and poor safety record, scaffolding is rarely the optimum solution; however there are occasions when powered access and rope access isn’t an option.

The high rise automatic window cleaning system a semi-robotic window cleaning system that is able to climb a tall building and do not require a human window cleaner. They use a hoist mechanism that is similar to that used for a cradle and clean the windows using ultra-pure or de-ionised water. Unfortunately the technology is in its early days and therefore very expensive.

To request a free quotation to carry out window cleaning using rope access at your premises call our New Business team today on 0800 118 2830.

By Jason Korinek.

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