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Facade restoration access considerations – How we work safely at height

During almost every project we undertake, working at height is a given. Whether it’s using the DOFF Steam Cleaning system to remove graffiti from a wall or building facade, or restoring glass panels on one of London’s prestigious commercial buildings, our operatives are regularly involved in situations where they need to work at height – sometimes working as high as 35 storeys above ground.

Providing our specialist operatives with the tools and training they need to access and restore building facades safely is one of the most important aspects of our commercial facade restoration services, particularly when working at height.

Let’s take a look at how we at See Brilliance ensure the safety of our employees at every step of the facade restoration and renovation process.

Why is safety important during facade restoration activities?

Falling from height, dropping harmful tools or equipment used in the restoration process, not being adequately trained to use specialist access equipment, avoidable injuries caused due to lack of knowledge or training, or a poor rescue plan — all common risks that accompany every commercial facade restoration job we undertake.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 mandates that it is the duty of an employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all our employees. It’s also necessary for all employers to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of people who are not in their employment, such as members of the public and occupiers of the buildings we work on.

But that’s not the only reason we work with proven safety systems. Legal requirement or not, we want to be fully equipped to prevent all accidents and eliminate unnecessary risk at every stage.

Working at height – How facade inspection is conducted

Commercial building facades are usually classified as ‘Safe’, ‘SWARMP’, or ‘Unsafe’:

  • A safe commercial building facade is exactly that – safe. It may require some tweaks or maintenance work in some cases but overall, it is safe to be around.
  • SWARMP stands for Safe with a Repair and Maintenance Program. This type of commercial building facade is one that requires corrective work or needs to be repaired in a specific period of time to classify as completely safe. Generally speaking, SWARMP facades don’t pose an active risk to the public, but they could, with time, eventually become hazardous.
  • An unsafe facade is one that requires immediate attention because it is unsafe, unreliable or dangerous for everyone around it including the general public and our operatives.

Before a facade is restored, we need to make sure that we have as many details about the project as possible. This is only achievable by conducting a thorough site survey and risk assessment of the building and its facade before restoration works are due to start.

How we ensure safety when working at height

Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP)

Facade restoration can be a tricky business. It usually involves working over the heads of pedestrians and passing cars below, with little margin for error.

Our facade restoration operatives employ a range of specialist access equipment to conduct commercial facade restoration projects. Chief among these is the Mobile Elevated Work Platform (MEWP), more commonly known as a cherry picker.

A Mobile Elevated Work Platform is a rising platform that is intended to be self-propelled, or 4-wheel driven. It is a type of crane built into a portable device that has up to four rising arms which support the elevated work platform as it moves along on wheels.

The components of a MEWP include a base; an elevated platform; and one or more stabilising outriggers to lift the vehicle attached to the mobile platform for safety and functional purposes.

We regularly use MEWPs to conduct restorative facade works as they provides us with scalable access to reach high areas of a building facade or cladding commonly found on commercial buildings. MEWPs also enable us to work on a range of historical landmarks safely.

We use MEWPs for all types of projects just to be safe; even if you want us to restore your commercial facade or remove graffiti from a first-floor external wall. MEWPs are suitable for some of our most popular restorative cleaning systems such as DOFF Steam Cleaning and TORC Cleaning.

Not only does a MEWP ensure the safety of the general public and our employees but it actually makes working at height more comfortable for our team, which allows them to do their job more effectively without any distractions.

With that being said, the major practical drawback of using a MEWP is that it only provides access to a certain height – something which varies from MEWP to MEWP. For this reason, we also use cradles and permanent access solutions.

Conducting Facade Restoration on a Mobile Elevated Work Platform

Our mobile elevated work platforms enable See Brilliance operatives to access difficult locations with ease, speed and safety.

Cradles and permanent access

Cradles are complex lifting devices that are often used in our commercial facade restoration projects. They allow our operatives to carry out facade restoration tasks when working at not just height but at any height indeed.

These basket-like sidewalls can be lowered via the roof of many types of commercial building, often being used to address problems on specific spots on the facade of the building.

For a more advanced safety solution, permanent access monorails can be securely installed using the existing rigging system in your building to allow our operatives to work on that specific level for longer durations.

Cradles can also be attached to these monorails, enabling our specialist commercial restoration operatives to move from one corner of the building to another with incredible ease.

We recently undertook full restoration of 800 glass panes at a commercial site in central London using four temporary cradles. The use of these cradles enabled our restoration specialists to work on each pane of glass at eye level, providing the most suitable setting for meticulous working and the best possible outcome.

Conducting Facade Restoration on an Elevated Cradle

We often use cradles like the one shown here to conduct restorative façade work on high-rise buildings. Cradles provide the ideal environment for a safe and thorough restoration.

Working with a professional facade restoration and maintenance company

Safety is of paramount importance when working on any commercial building facade. This is why it is so important to choose a professional facade restoration contractor who uses safe systems and techniques to get the job done in the dedicated time.

At See Brilliance, we are not only aware of the government’s safety requirements when it comes to commercial facade restoration and maintenance but are fully equipped to deliver professional, safe restoration works on all types of commercial building façade.

For three decades, our commercial facade restoration experts have been focused on eliminating the risks associated with working at height by following more than just the mandatory safety protocol for all our projects. And we are sure we can safely restore your building, too!

Get in touch today to find out more.

See Brilliance specialises in restorative commercial cleaning of metal, glass and stone. We provide commercial facade restoration, stone facade restoration, commercial window restoration, TORC Cleaning, DOFF Steam Cleaning, graffiti removal, and much more, all across the UK.

If you’d like to get in touch today, call our team directly on 01635 230 888 or email [email protected].

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