High-access cleaning and the many risks involved
fmME explores the various aspects of high-access cleaning, and the importance manufacturers and rental companies are placing on sustainability
The term ‘daredevil’ often gets thrown around quite frequently, but it’s seldom used in context. Don’t get me wrong, I take nothing away from high flying athletes who put their lives through danger to achieve superhuman stunts in the name of entertainment.
But imagine hanging from a rope off a hundred storey high rise, with a bucket and a mop, cleaning the façade of a building inch by inch. All that separates you from the unthinkable is the strength and reliability of the safety equipment and those countless hours that you have spent in training. But as Alain El Tawil of Grako puts it, “no amount of training can prepare you for the real deal: hanging from the Burj Khalifa, for instance”.
High access cleaning — whether rope access or platform access — is a high-risk job. And although, a nascent vertical within facilities management globally, reports of fatalities are few and far between.
High access cleaning and maintenance isn’t a vocation that you’d attend university to study and master the skill. Yet, its popularity and importance is on the rise, and by sales prediction of high access cleaning machines and equipment manufacturers, the industry is set to multiply steadily over the next two decades.
Thus shining the light on institutions such as International Powered Access Federation (IPAF), Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) and Prefabricated Access Suppliers’ & Manufacturers’ Association Ltd (PASMA) to provide much needed know-how and direction for the industry.
These associations play a vital role in ensuring workplace safety — which is arguably the biggest concern for the industry. Promoting the usage of sustainable chemicals and best work practices along with pushing gear manufacturers are also crucial tasks they have fostered over the decades.
No one occupation can ever be considered lesser than another, but I speak for myself when I say being a high access technician is something I would dread doing for a living, given my fear of heights.
Three cheers to the real daredevils!