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Safety precautions when conducting restorative cleaning at height

No one job is the same, but they all begin with risk assessments and a diligent approach to safety during work. With our teams having worked on buildings of over one hundred metres tall, we’re familiar with how to get the job done safely, to say the least!

Here’s more on how we safely navigate working at height.

Cleaning at height can be a challenge – but it’s more common a need than you’d think. In London, a thriving place familiar to our team, some of the tallest buildings reach over three hundred feet tall. The tallest of them all, The Shard, is a proud sign of London’s mysterious skyline, standing at a magnificent 96 storeys.

As of early 2019, the total number of planned and under construction buildings weighing in at over 20 storeys was no less than 541. Every one of these, no matter the quality and brilliance of their construction, needs professional restorative cleaning periodically. And the consequence if they don’t get it: degraded surfaces, diminished visual appeal, damage to brand and even structural issues.

It’s something we’re well served to address through services like non-abrasive façade cleaning, DOFF steam cleaning and glass façade restoration at height. Our experience caters to all standards that relate to high-level cleaning in the UK, from the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) through to the Safety in Access Contractor’s Scheme (SIAC).

We’re also CHAS accredited and have long been approved members of the Safe Contractor scheme. Last and certainly not least, we’re Stonehealth DOFF steam cleaning approved contractors. Whether it’s abseiling down Embassy Gardens or using a mobile elevated work platform to clean the façade of a listed building, we’ve got the right staff for the job.

Building restoration at height – safety first

It isn’t just The Shard that needs a thorough approach to tackle efficiently and responsibly. Many buildings meet the criteria for tall buildings regarding cleaning safety and process, regardless of whether they’re simple in design, complex in style or listed and Heritage sites

The government has clear guidance on cleaning tall buildings. The Work at Height Regulations of 2005 lays it all it out, requiring those involved to:

  • Plan and organise any work at height
  • Initially seek safer, alternate methods of entry to clean from such as from inside windows or balconies
  • Ensure involved professionals are competent for the task
  • Guarantee that risks are assessed, and appropriate equipment selected
  • Manage and control any sources of risk during work
  • Identify and work around fragile and dangerous surfaces
  • Adequately inspect and maintain necessary equipment

Our experience helps here. A smooth and comprehensive site appraisal needs close inspection of the site to identify potential issues and challenges. Does the site require permissions for cleaning equipment, such as heavy powered machinery and the roadblocks with which to safely secure them in public areas? Will, or can, the building be occupied during cleaning? Does the proposed project meet critical safety and legislation requirements and how? Are there sensitive surfaces that require gentler cleaning methods?

The result of that experience is measured in an excellent safety record and a history of successful projects carried out on some of the UK’s most prestigious buildings, if we do say so ourselves!

Working conditions: How we ask the right questions 

Despite how innocuous a person working from abseil might appear to a passer by, any work at height is preceded by a stringent checklist. It’s part of daily life for our team; here’s a little of what they’re looking at and considering for such a job.

Height and access: First things first; how tall is the building? At this early stage, we’re looking for ways to get our workers safely to the necessary height to start cleaning. Here, we consider fragile surfaces, obstructions and anything that might get in the way or pose a risk, such as a power line.

Location and weather: Risk isn’t the same every time. A council building on a busy street needs a different assessment and plan of action compared to an industrial estate. If there’s footfall around our work area, we plan to restrict it. If adverse weather is expected, we’ll move our schedule to accommodate it.

Surfaces and ground: Not only do we have to clean each surface the right way, but we also need to consider if any of our kit is resting upon a fragile area during work. Many buildings have expensive façades for aesthetic reasons; listed and Heritage sites are notorious for this. Again, we plan accordingly. The same goes for the ground condition; what’s it like under our work area and is the surface uneven, muddy or at an incline? All important questions.

Tools and kit: With all the above looked at, we’ll make a final call on the equipment we need to restore your building to a pristine finish, be that mobile elevated work platforms or abseiling teams to work from the top down.

Quite the list!

It’s a lot, isn’t it? We’re quite used to it, but it’s often a surprise amongst clients to see just how much planning goes into safe and effective project delivery. We’re proud to get it right every time with no corners ever cut.

We do hope you’ve found this glimpse into our working process interesting and informative. Safety is something we simply don’t compromise on and we’re proud to offer a competitive and professional service, no matter how demanding a building’s profile may be.

We’re here if you’d like to talk! Please call 01635 230888 or email [email protected] for more information. Speak soon and take care.

See Brilliance has over 30 years of experience in specialist restorative cleaning of metal, glass and stone. We can provide façade and cladding restoration, DOFF Steam Cleaning, graffiti removal, and much more, all across the UK.

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