National Window Safety Week

National Window Safety Week is designed to heighten the awareness of what can be done to help keep families safe from the risk of accidental falls or injuries in the home. Falls from a window are extremely dangerous, especially for children, and can cause serious injuries or death. While National Window Safety Week is observed annually, safety education occurs throughout the year.

Windows play a vital role in home safety, serving as a secondary escape route in the event of a fire or other emergency, but they can also pose a risk for a fall if safety measures are not followed. Take a look at the guidelines below to learn how window-related injuries in the home can be prevented.

  • As previously stated, windows provide a secondary means of escape from a burning home. Determine your family’s emergency escape plan and practice it. Remember that children may have to rely on a window to escape in a fire. Help them learn to safely use a window under these circumstances.
  • When performing spring repairs, ensure that your windows are not painted or nailed shut. You must be able to open them to escape in an emergency.
  • Keep your windows closed and locked when children are around. When opening windows for ventilation, open windows that a child cannot reach.
  • Set and enforce rules about keeping children’s play away from windows or patio doors. Falling through the glass can be fatal or cause serious injury.
  • Keep furniture — or anything children can climb — away from windows. Children may use such objects as a climbing aid.
  • Do not install window unit air conditioners in windows that may be needed for escape or rescue in an emergency. The air conditioning unit could block or impede escape through the window.
  • Don’t rely on insect screens to prevent a fall, as they are designed to provide ventilation and not to prevent a child’s fall from a window.
  • Make sure nothing is blocking or preventing a window from being opened in the case of an emergency.
  • Install building code-compliant devices, such as window guards (with quick-release mechanisms in case of fire).

Safety Resources

National Safety Council Window Safety Checklist.

(Source: http://kiowacountypress.net/content/national-window-safety-week)

 


What Every Building Owner Needs to Know

What Every Building Owner Needs to Know
By Jack Cameron

As soon as the first skyscraper went up, there were window washers. It’s a profession that has a lot of inherent danger in it. Improvised and unsafe equipment or practices were often commonplace. Even when newer, safer equipment was available; it wasn’t able to be used because it wasn’t authorized for such work. Tracey Domaszowec, whose husband, Robert died in New York City after falling seventeen stories while cleaning windows said, “People don’t realize that being married to a window cleaner is very much like being married to a fireman or a policeman,”

Building owners have often left it up to the individual contractors to counter the dangers of window washing and other work at suspended heights. This was because up until recently there were no real hard, fast rules specific to window washing. This has changed. The International Window Cleaners Association (IWCA) created a standard called IWCA I-14.1-2001. This standard was created over the course of almost five years and involved individuals from every aspect of the industry.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved IWCA I-14.1-2001 in October of 2001. While the ANSI/IWCA I-14.1-2001 Standard hasn’t been officially adopted by OSHA, this has not stopped OSHA from issuing serious citations under the general duty clause. These new standards not only make window washing safer, but also say specifically what building owners, property professionals, and window washing contractors are responsible for.

  • The building owner or property professional must provide written documentation from a professional structural engineer that the roof anchors being used are certified to withstand the expected loads necessary for any work being done.
  • Any permanent equipment being used for window cleaning must be inspected and maintained by the property professional or operating agent. Documentation of this maintenance and inspection must be provided to the window cleaning contractor.
  • Manufacturer instructions on all equipment being used that includes the load ratings, limitations, and intended use must be supplied to the window cleaning contractor.
  • If the window cleaning contractor uses their own equipment and attaches it to any part of the building, it must be inspected to ensure that the anchor point will hold the expected load. It is often necessary that this be done by a structural engineer.

As a building owner, you can no longer just assume that the window washer contractors are responsible for the safety of their workers. As the building owner, you now have specific responsibilities. The ANSI/IWCA I-14.1-2001 Standard requires that building owners and property professionals be responsible for the following:

these rules apply to all building three stories or higher. If there is no appropriate anchor point for suspended work, the building must be retrofitted with certified anchor points before any work can begin. In addition to this, any new buildings three stories or higher are required to have anchor points in the initial designs.

The ANSI/IWCA I-14.1-2001 Standard also requires that window washers and other workers doing any suspended work provide written assurances to the building owner or property professional that all work they perform will comply with all applicable local, state, and federal laws. They also must provide documentation proving all workers have had the appropriate training and are certified to use all equipment being used for their work.

This standard makes a dangerous job safer, but it also puts building owners on notice that they need to make sure the workers on their buildings have the proper training and equipment in order to avoid liability.

http://www.iwca.org/
www.boma.org
http://www.ansi.org/
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/28/nyregion/28windowwasher.html

Go to www.guardianfall.com for additional information.