Powered window washing equipment can offer added protection for workers and can increase productivity for these high-elevation activities. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, better known as OSHA, is responsible for providing regulatory oversight and guidance for businesses in protecting the safety of their employees. OSHA fall protection regulations require the use of harnesses or belts in areas where falls of more than six feet could occur. Ensuring that workers have the proper training and safety equipment while performing window washing duties is essential to reduce the number of accidents and to provide a safe working environment as required by OSHA regulations.
Before operating a powered window washing platform, workers must be trained in proper safety procedures as well as the actual use of this equipment. OSHA requires training in the following areas:
- Understanding and recognizing the safety hazards present in the working environment
- Identifying and managing the risks involved in specific tasks and work responsibilities
- Implementing an emergency management plan when accidents do occur
- Maintaining safe working practices on the jobsite
- Ensuring that proper fall protection measures are in place and are used correctly during the course of window washing duties
Professional window washing consultants can provide support for instituting these safety measures and for creating comprehensive training regimens for staff members. Employers, however, retain primary responsibility for ensuring that their workers have the necessary fall protection equipment and required training.
Documentation and Weight Limits
Companies can ensure full compliance with OSHA training regulations by creating a written plan that incorporates training requirements, best practices for the use of window washing equipment and practical instruction in safety procedures. Building maintenance companies are also required by OSHA to create a written emergency action plan and to train their employees in the provisions of this plan prior to the use of window washing equipment. Load rating plates must be affixed to the suspended unit in a prominent location to ensure that the rated weight capacity of the equipment is not exceeded during the course of regular window washing activities.
Inspection and Maintenance
Powered window washing platforms must meet stringent OSHA safety regulations and must be inspected regularly to ensure that they are in optimal working order:
- Window washing platforms must undergo a comprehensive inspection by a trained and qualified professional on an annual basis. This inspection includes visual and mechanical examination of moving parts and platform components and weight testing of all load-bearing elements to ensure that the equipment is working as intended. Building maintenance companies must maintain written certification records that these tests and inspections have been performed as required.
- OSHA regulations require inspections of powered window washing platforms every 30 days; these inspections must be performed by a competent professional and must follow the recommendations provided by the equipment manufacturer. Additionally, all lifelines, ropes and suspension wires must be examined for signs of wear or deterioration once monthly. Written certifications must be maintained on file of these inspections and disclosed to OSHA personnel upon request.
- For equipment that has not been used in 30 days or more, a full inspection is required to ensure proper weight capacities and to identify any unusual wear or deterioration of the lifelines, attachment points or platform components.
- Attachment points, the davit system, lifelines and platforms must be inspected after any major change to the configuration of an existing installation.
- If worn, malfunctioning or damaged components are discovered during the course of the inspection, these items must be replaced or repaired prior to use. Additionally, the regular maintenance recommended by the equipment manufacturer must be performed to ensure the safety of workers and the proper function of powered platforms.
All inspections, maintenance work and repairs must be documented to ensure full compliance with all OSHA requirements.
The success of any safety program depends on the consistent compliance of supervisors and staff members. By establishing a set of best practices for window washing staff, building maintenance companies can significantly reduce the risks to these employees and can provide a safer working environment even at higher elevations.