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"There is a growing need to provide data and use IT technology to support the window cleaning process."


Higher ground


David Saville, Operations Director of Principle Cleaning Services’ Window Cleaning division, discusses the technology in window and high-level cleaning.


On the face of it, the window cleaning industry may not seem to have changed significantly over the past 25 years. Much has indeed remained the same over that time. The old values of early morning starts, hard graft, working in all weathers and the daily requirement to be paying close attention to detail have not diminished.


There have been significant changes in working practises and the requirements for working safely following law changes relating to the workplace, working equipment, and the need to provide a written risk assessment and method statement for every task.


As a result, window cleaning teams, now kitted out with modern and regularly inspected PPE, do have a more modern appearance now they are fitted out with the correct safety equipment, and the image is generally a more contemporary and professional one.


The requirement to eliminate the risk of a fall under the Work at Height Regulations has brought modernisation in other equipment, such as reach and wash pure water systems. These have improved significantly over recent years, bringing better water filtration and improved portability of the water storage tanks. The hot water systems can provide filtration of up to one part per billion, giving excellent cleaning results if the frequency of cleaning is sufficient.


The Work at Height Regulations require service providers to select access methods under a hierarchy of access, so that the method which provides the least risk of a fall is selected in preference to another access method. So, for example, reach and wash will be used in preference to working from


52 | WINDOW CLEANING & WORKING AT HEIGHT


a cherry picker – this should then be formally recorded in site-specific risk assessments and method statements.


A further development has quietly been creeping into the window cleaning industry over more recent years where, along with other service industries, there is a growing need to provide data and use IT technology to support the window cleaning process.


This is a dynamic and evolving situation and client requirements vary, which can put some strain on service providers as well as energising them into finding innovation to get an edge over their competitors in what is becoming an ever more competitive marketplace.


So far, this technology has been developed and is being used in a number of forms:


1. ‘Self-cleaning’ glass – this has been around in the market for some time, but while the treated surface does have its benefits in making cleaning slightly less labour intensive, it is not able to cope with the modern polluted city environments, and regular manual cleaning is still needed to keep it looking good and to prevent associated framework and cladding from becoming unsightly and poorly maintained.


2. Proof of work completed – traditionally this has been provided by a client signature on a paper docket or workbill following completion of each task, and sometimes by an inspection of work by the client and the supervisor of the work. With modern technology these workbills can be signed remotely on a smartphone with pictures taken and sent to a portal with access restricted


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