Special cases require particular safety solutions
Which special cases can arise in practice when cleaning windows?
Because of their magnificent stylish buildings from very different periods of history, European cities and metropolitan areas in particular are favourite travel destinations. Not surprising, because in most cases they are also very well maintained, and also regularly serviced and cleaned.
However, apart from the safety aspect, there is another significant challenge for facility managers and their cleaning teams. In most cases, the old building structures are listed, and they therefore require extreme care in the course of cleaning work on windows. Damage to such buildings can be an expensive matter.
But also modern buildings, such as office complexes, schools, youth centres or retirement homes and facilities for the handicapped, often demand a lot from the cleaning team.
Although it is unusual for them to be listed, at times they have glass surfaces and windows which go well beyond the usual dimensions, and therefore represent an additional challenge.
In addition, special window fall protection systems are usually required, because not all areas can be safely and easily accessed from the ground. In practice, all the buildings mentioned here represent a special case, which mostly then also requires special window fall protection systems.
And yes, you’ve made the connection correctly: The body size of the window cleaner himself must also be taken into account in terms of window fall protection. Even though this and a number of other subjects are very important, they are only briefly addressed here, and are not treated as a special case.
The most frequent special cases
- Building preservation
Only properties with a historical value and particular relevance to regional culture are protected under building preservation law. And here the urban, artistic, or technical significance of a building are also assessed.
All listed properties are deemed to be buildings particularly worthy of protection, for which a multiplicity of requirements and approvals are imposed – and this also applies to the maintenance, care, and cleaning of the windows. The responsible authorities are often very sensitive to potential damage which could be caused by cleaning tasks, for example
The special solution:
Of course, even for cleaning tasks on listed buildings, the necessary window fall protection systems must be used. In this case, making drillings into surface structures will hardly be permitted.
Therefore, for such buildings, only window fall protection systems which use a clamping solution, such as the MFS modular fall protection for windows from INNOTECH, come under consideration. Sensitive window frames were one of the reasons for development of these mobile window railings.
They have a modular structure and are fitted with rubber toppings at sensitive locations, in order to prevent damage to the facade or the window ledges.
- Windows with generous dimensions
Windows with dimensions making them appear completely accessible from ground level, and which can be cleaned safely, are the dream scenario, as it were. Unfortunately there are also windows whose dimensions of height and width are somewhat demanding.
In this case the cleaners require a ladder or other ascent aids for their work in order to clean the whole of the glass surface properly. This is naturally particularly problematic if the actual worker is of small physical stature, and can reach the upper edge of the window only with difficulty.
However, even if such ascent aids are deployed, the cleaners who use them have to be protected from falls. Here you should ensure that from a fall height of 12 meters and upwards (measured from the standing surface), the minimum height of the barrier is 110 cm. In Switzerland, fall protection is necessary from a fall height of 100 cm upwards.
The special solution:
Depending on the window height, the extendable telescopic rods of the MFS system, with clamping or drilling, are the best choice here. They are quickly and easily adjusted or extended to the characteristics and dimensions of the windows.
The modular system can also be supplemented by a net (MFS-NET-81), and this provides additional safety during the cleaning tasks. Depending on the fall height (see above), a third cross member or telescopic rod must be fitted when using an MFS system.
The separation of these cross members is required by law to be 47 cm, and this must be complied in any event.
Clamping or drilling?
An MFS system which held in place by clamping can be fitted with a maximum of 4 rods, but when attached by drillings there are no limits to the height which can be protected professionally.
As already mentioned above, for the MFS from INNOTECH there are two fastening methods: by means of clamps or by means of drillings. With drillings, fixed holes are drilled in the window frame, to adapt the extendable telescopic rods of the mobile railings to the window width, and to fix them.
If damaging the window frames in this way is not permitted, then to install the window fall protection system, these drillings may optionally be made outside on the wall, – regardless whether the wall is made of brick or wood.
For this purpose, the appropriate guide bushes are inserted into the drilled holes, so that the MFS system can then be fixed in place safely and stably using plug-in modules.
Otherwise, you use clamps to attach the MFS system. This method too allows the telescopic rods to be adapted with millimetre-precision to the window width, and safely attached.
The benefit of this method is that the mobile fall protection system is easily transported from one window to another, and is adapted each time to the individual window width – up to a maximum width of 2.5 metres.
Therefore in many cases you need only one system to protect all windows appropriately. But here too a certain level of planning and training is required, because you may also need different types of telescopic rods from INNOTECH’s MFS system.
When it comes to window cleaning, you are not always dealing with standard situations or dimensions. In this case, you need individual window fall protection systems which protect your personnel and the building.
This is equally true for listed buildings as for modern properties with extraordinary facades and oversized windows. However, for every special situation there is also a professional solution.
Please contact us. We will be happy to analyse the situation on-the-spot and, together with you, to determine the optimum window fall protection solution. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Über den Autor
Since 1999 Roger Neuenschwander has worked in technical sales. In the course of his career he focused on protecting working areas subject to significant potential danger. In 2020 he finally transferred to INNOTECH Arbeitsschutz AG, where he now supports the central Switzerland area in field sales, by providing the optimum safety solutions from INNOTECH. In the course of this, he has specialised in the areas of modular window safety and personal protective equipment.
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Safety when cleaning windows
Founded in 2001, INNOTECH Arbeitsschutz is a family-owned company with headquarters in Kirchham and branch offices in Germany and Switzerland. With a dedicated research and development team, INNOTECH soon set international standards in the area of occupational safety. Ever since, it has driven forward the further development of innovative products. Today INNOTECH is one of the largest manufacturers in Europe which has specialised exclusively in the production of safety systems, with 88% from its own manufacture, in order to guarantee maximum quality.
According to various statistics, several hundred people have an accident on roofs every year. Accidents that could have been prevented with appropriate safety equipment and the diligent installation of high-quality fall protection systems.
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