In recent years the UK has seen an increase in the use of reach and wash water fed poles for the cleaning of windows, with the ability to reach higher and to more storeys broadening all the time. It is often perceived to be a much better option than abseiling. But it may not alway be the best option
There are many safety issues with the incorrect use of reach and wash poles to both the user and the public if used incorrectly, with competition constantly driving prices down, corners are cut to increase job turnover.
As an employer of the company completing the works, building management and owners have duty of care that the works are completed in the safest manor under a relevant risk assessment.
Trip hazards are often a major hazard identified with the use of reach and wash systems due to the contractors running hoses from their vans often across public highways. Window cleaning with the provision of abseiling eliminates the need for hoses on pavements, a suitable exclusion zone in established below the working areas keeping the public safe at all times.
As the system requires an extendable pole, up to 80ft, Â the user is control with no safety or fail safe features if the operative loses control, the consequences could be catastrophic as it is extremely rare that the job are in large open areas often they are near heavily pedestrianised areas, busy roads or near overhead cables. When the windows are cleaned using rope access all tools and buckets are lanyard at all times eliminating all risk of injuring the public from dropped items.
Quality of finish
Theres no argument that the cleaning of windows using traditional methods of squeegees is undoubtedly a better finish, although this can be a slightly more expensive method it is often required less throughout the year for periodic cleaning. Rope access window cleaning can also be completed with a purified water fed system from the roof where the technicians abseil with a smaller brush attached via lanyards achieving the same finish in a safe manor, this is a cost effective method of cleaning windows from rope access due to the speed it can be completed.
Water fed poles have been known to cause damage to windows. Especially to traditional wooden sash windows located on heritage buildings and converted mill residential properties where the single glazed units are often very fragile, also the wooden frames and sills can be damaged causing larger costs in the future.