Prioritizing Safety of Building Façade Access and Fall Protection

Apr 29, 2024

Your building’s façade conveys the first impression of aesthetics and serves as your first line of defense against environmental factors. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires you, as a building owner, to mitigate risks and provide a safe working environment for those performing work on your building, including general maintenance. This article covers the essential role of safety measures in mitigating risks through safe building façade access and proper fall protection.

The Significance of Safe Building Façade Access

Building collapses are rare. The risk of that happening poses a significant threat to public safety. For this reason, many of our major cities in the U.S. have façade ordinance laws that require inspections. Here are some examples:

Safe building façade access facilitates inspections while allowing you to maintain and repair your façade, addressing minor issues before they become big problems. Window cleaning, pressure washing the façade, and leak repairs allow you to extend the life of your building, preserving its value while protecting the public. In addition, safe access is critical to creating the safe working environment OSHA requires, along with proper training, equipment, and protocols.

Overview of Building Façade Access Methods

Accessing the façade, especially on taller buildings, is not for the faint of heart. Workers need to feel physically and psychologically safe when performing façade work. This environment allows them to maintain their focus, keep safety at the forefront, and actively speak up about safety concerns. The equipment they use to traverse the façade has many shapes and forms.

  1. Rope Descent Systems (RDS): Think of rappelling, but for work! Workers use ropes to descend the side of the building for window cleaning or minor repairs on high-rise buildings.
  1. Suspended Scaffolding: When scaffolding from the ground up isn’t enough, scaffolds can suspend from an overhead structure, allowing workers to move to the desired level.
  1. Lifts (Aerial Lifts and Booms): Because they offer mobility, aerial lifts provide more flexibility than ladders and scaffolding. In extreme cases, boom lifts can reach a couple hundred feet but mainly provide façade access for the first few stories of a building.
  1. Building Maintenance Units (BMU): These are permanent setups on the tops of the tallest skyscrapers. They’re like a little car on a track going around the roof, lowering a platform down the side.

Every method requires specific training and routine inspection to ensure safety and meet OSHA fall protection regulations.

Identifying Your Building’s Façade Access Needs

The primary goal is to create and maintain a safe working environment for anyone accessing your building façade. Begin with assessing your building’s architecture, safety incidents or concerns, and recent façade inspections.

Valcourt Safety Systems assesses your façade access needs with a full inspection and a customized plan to achieve compliance. You can rest easy, as our expert team takes the worry of non-compliance off your plate. Our end-to-end solutions cover design and installation, followed by post-install support for testing and certification.

Safe Facade Access Systems: Watch On-Demand Webinar

Access our on-demand webinar, Creating & Maintaining a Safe Façade Access System, to gain clarity from our experts on general industry OSHA requirements for building owners with steps to facilitate your compliance journey. Plus, explore various types of facade access systems, including Rope Descent Systems, Suspended Scaffolding, BMUs & more; and their ongoing maintenance needs.

Elevating Safety for Building Façade Access

Whether you are a building owner, an employer, or a worker at heights, you have a role in fall protection. Each role relies on the other to carry out its respective responsibilities to ensure safety and reduce injuries and fatalities resulting from falls.

Valcourt stands at the forefront of safety. We are ready to assist you in getting your property up to speed in terms of safety, OSHA compliance, and aesthetics. Contact Valcourt for information on examining your façade access needs and fall protection systems.

Rooftop Fall Hazard Assessment safety compliance documentation