Holiday Safety tips for your Building


At VIP Building Services we are often found on the outside looking in at your building.

Sometimes this perspective helps us see opportunities for improvement and safety measures to improve your facilities and limit your liabilities.

Depending on your type of facility the holiday season often includes setup and teardown of specialty lighting, decorations, party rooms, food and beverage and many other non-traditional building operations. The facilities are “on display” and utilized by groups within and without your normal control.

If you didn’t learn your lesson from Clark Griswold, holiday decorating can be dangerous. Last year, an estimated 13,000 people in the US were hurt involving holiday decorations. That’s up from 10,000 in 2007.At VIP we can help you provide a safe and clean environment to maximize the safety of your facility both before and after the holidays. The VIP Building Services team can provide cleaning and high dusting for interior and exterior areas, power washing of walkways and party areas, and dozens of other services to insure that you have the safest possible holiday season.

I-14 Safety Compliance

The window cleaning business could also be referred to as the building access business. Anyone can put soap on glass and wipe it off, but few have the expertise to safely and effectively access the outside of high-rise buildings, while complying with all pertinent codes and standards.

Let one of our VIP experts stop by for a free consultation. You’ll be glad you did.

By the way the smudge on the window that we can’t seem to remove is on your side!

Your Questions Answered About Safety

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What Can VIP Do For You?

What Can VIP Do For You?

As a building owner, property manager or building engineer, you must ask yourself how in the world are you going to keep all the laws, regulations, and standards straight? How do you keep on top of it all? Over and over again, you will find that having knowledgeable contractors as your vendors is the way to go. Window cleaning is no different.

The cause of increasing safety in our industry has been VIP Window Cleaning’s crusade for over a decade. Some of the things that VIP can do for you include:

The questions you may want to ask the other vendor…
  1. Can you facilitate and schedule the required inspections?
  2. Are you enrolled in the International Window Cleaning certification program and do you have any window cleaners that have completed the certification process?
  3. Are you an active member of the International Window Cleaning Association and do you attend there safety training seminars?
  4. Do you ensure proper rigging and safety procedures with a full-time Compliance Manager?
  5. Do you have an in-house safety training program?
  6. Do you have your own quality control manager or do you require the property manager to oversee the quality of your work?
  7. Do you provide an Operational Plan of Service (OPOS)?
  8. Do you have signed and logo-ed work trucks?
  9. How will you educate building engineers and management regarding all pertinent standards and regulations?
  10. Can you provide $6,000,000 worth of liability insurance?

OSHA Citation

Window Cleaning

7801 Suffolk Court, Alexandria, VA 22315-4029
Phone: 800-875-4922 or 703-971-7771 Fax: 703-971-7772
Email: Web:

> Download this article as a PDF form

Attention: Professionals in the Window Cleaning Industry
Topic: OSHA References I-14 Standard in Recent Citation
Since the approval and publication of the ANSI/IWCA I 14 Window Cleaning Safety
Standard in October of 2001, there has been continuing education for the window cleaning
and property management industries with regards to the impact this new ANSI Standard
will have on safety in the workplace.

The question of “Can the I 14 Standard can be used and enforced much like an OSHA
regulation?” has been repeatedly raised.

While ANSI Standards are voluntary in nature, their very existence allows regulatory
agencies like OSHA, to have a reference point, where none may exist in current
regulations, in order to enforce workplace safety. This fact enables regulatory officials to
reference the latest technological information which may include greater levels of safety,
while performing their duties regarding safety compliance.

The following paragraph is an excerpt from a recent OSHA citation of a window cleaning
company in 2002. As you can see, OSHA has suggested the particular incident may have
been prevented had the company taken steps to provide safety training, site assessment
training and equipment use and inspection as described within the ANSI/IWCA I 14
Window Cleaning Safety Standard.

This is not the first reference by OSHA of the I 14 Window Cleaning Safety Standard, nor
will it be the last. If you’re a professional involved with the window cleaning industry and
are concerned about safety compliance call 800-875-4922, or visit our website to obtain a copy of the ANSI/IWCA I 14 Standard.

Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970: The employer did not furnish employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees in that employees were exposed to fall hazard of 60 feet: Employee(s) were exposed to a fall hazard of 60 ft. from a building on which they were washing windows while suspended from boatswain chair scaffolding. Employee(s) were attempting to wash windows without the employer providing training in order that the employee(s) could inspect the condition of, and safely use the required equipment. A feasible and available method of abatement is to create and provide employees with a training program, inspection information and procedures and the proper equipment as required by the American National Standard/International Window Cleaning Association Window Cleaning Safety ANSI/IWCA I-14.1.

The mission of the IWCA is to educate and assist its members in developing professionalism, ethics and standards of safety; to actively represent the concerns and interests of window cleaning companies to international, national, state and local regulatory agencies; to promote the welfare of the industry through advocacy, education, training and community involvement; and to be recognized as the premier association for the window cleaning industry.

Building Owner Citation

View Building Owner Citation

A New Safety Standard

For almost half a century, professional window cleaning at commercial facilities developed without a clear and concise guideline outlining safe and accepted practices. Often times, the methods being used were based on company tradition rather than technical or statistical data.
Equipment and techniques evolved faster than standards and codes were being written.

Consequently, safer equipment and techniques were often overlooked because they had not been currently regulated. In many cases, window-cleaning contractors were performing guesswork at buildings when it came to rigging or using other equipment to access the windows. It is for these reasons a new window cleaning safety standard was developed as well as to serve as an aid to property managers, architects, developers and consultants, and regulatory agencies.

On October 25, 2001, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved the International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA) I-14.1 Window Cleaning Safety draft standard for publication as an American National Standard.

Because the very nature of professional window cleaning requires the contractor to bring equipment to a building, the overall objective of the Standard is to outline the shared responsibilities for workplace safety that exist between the property manager and window cleaning company.

The Standard has been well received by the industry at large. Over 2000 copies of the document have been purchased during its first year of publication. The Standard has been a catalyst toward contractor and property professionals developing stronger relationships, which has led to a greater awareness of the need for work place safety as well as qualified workers with validated safety training.

Recently, the State of Washington has included references to the I-14 Standard in their upgrade to the States window cleaning safety code.

Several other States are currently reviewing the document with the same objective in mind and most regional offices of OSHA have begun referencing the standard while enforcing safety in the industry.

In conclusion, The I-14 safety standard is having a dramatic effect on the window cleaning industry. By working together window cleaners and property professionals can ensure that the future of window cleaning has never been brighter or safer.

Stefan Bright
Safety Director,
International Window Cleaning Association

New Window Cleaning Standard Shines

Marco A. Giamberardino
Director of Codes and Standards
BOMA International’s Advocacy Advancement Division

> Download this article as a PDF file

On October 25, 2001, the American National Standards Institute
(ANSI) approved the IWCA I-14.1 Window Cleaning Safety draft
standard for publication as an American National Standard.
document, the result of nearly five years of work by members of the
IWCA I-14 Committee, of which the Building Owners and Managers
Association (BOMA) International is a member, will help ensure the
safety of the countless professionals who keep our buildings looking
their best, and it provides commercial real estate with some much
needed guidance in providing a safe environment for those

For almost half a century, professional window cleaning at
commercial facilities developed without a clear and concise document
regulating window cleaning operations. Equipment and practices
evolved faster than standards and codes were being written.

Consequently, newer and safer equipment was prohibited from use
because their use was not authorized, despite the equipment having
been found to provide a greater level of safety as a result of industry
statistics, accident studies, research, and development. This lack of
resource material and guidance for the professional window cleaner
and the property manager fueled rapid changes within the window
cleaning profession.

Recognizing the need for a new state of the art safety standard, the
International Window Cleaning Association (IWCA), with the help of
the Building Owners and Managers Association International and the
rest of the window cleaning industry worked together to develop a
consensus-based standard to raise the level of safety for the window
cleaning industry. The result is a new ANSI Standard, the IWCA I-
14.1. The ANSI/IWCA I-14.1 document supersedes all previous
window cleaning standards. It has quickly become the resource guide
the window cleaning industry regularly consults for guidance.
There are actually two different groups of professionals immediately
affected by the new standard: property professionals and window
cleaners. Building owners and managers are required to provide a
safe building from which to work, and window cleaners are required
to ply their trade within specific safe guidelines.

Most industry-recognized safety hazards are related to the use of
transportable suspended access equipment on office buildings. With
that in mind, there are several key issues within the I-14.1 Window
Cleaning Safety Standard that require the attention and participation
of building owners, managers, and their operating agents.

Under the I-14 Standard, both the property manager and the window
cleaning contractor are required to exchange written assurances to
ensure worker safety and public protection.

Property professionals are required to provide documentation to their
window cleaning contractor that covers the following areas of
concern: permanent window-cleaning equipment installed on
buildings such as a powered platforms; a copy of the maintenance
records and inspection documents must be provided to the window
cleaning contractor prior to the equipment being used; and all
applicable information, from the manufacturers of the devices,
including load ratings, intended use and limitations and instructions
will also need to be supplied to the window cleaning contractor.

Window cleaning contractors also have specific requirements they
must adhere to regarding training, site evaluation, proper anchorages
and rigging practices, fall prevention, rescue, the environment, and
dozens of other recognizable concerns. When followed, these new
measures will help the contractor and the property manager deliver a
superior product to tenants.

The Plan of Service

The I-14 Standard incorporates a concept entitled the “Plan of
Service,” which was developed so that the window cleaning
contractor could effectively address all safety concerns at a jobsite or
building prior to the service being performed.

The intent of the Plan of Service is to inform the building owner or
operating agent when windows to be cleaned are located in areas
where workers may utilize suspended equipment, specify how each
worker’s independent fall protection tieback should be placed for each
individual descent, include the identification of hazardous areas,
outline additional safety features, describe hazardous chemical use,
and identify areas requiring public protection.

Fall Protection
Falls in the workplace represent the greatest hazard to professional
window cleaners on a daily basis, and many building roofs are not
equipped for proper fall protection. This fact is not limited to window
cleaning contractors either. Many in-house building maintenance
personnel as well as other tradesmen have to access the roof of a
building, and they should also be afforded proper fall protection.

The I-14 states that “Fall protection, perimeter guarding, personal fall
arrest systems or a personal fall restraint system (as applicable) shall
be provided for all work areas that expose a worker to a fall hazard
when approaching within 6 feet (1800mm) of an unguarded edge or
unguarded skylight (with the exception of working on a ladder
supported at grade or using a window cleaner’s belt).”

Property managers are left with many options for fall protection with
this requirement, including perimeter guarding, fall restraint systems,
warning line systems, and fall arrest systems.

Anchors and Anchorage
The most critical component in suspended access equipment system
is what the suspension lines and safety lines are attached to on the
roof of the building. An inspection of the roof of a building will reveal
whether or not there are structural elements that can be used as
adequate anchors or that the building may need to have anchors

In order for window cleaning operations to be conducted properly,
buildings must have properly identified anchorage points. These can
be either roof anchors or other existing anchorage points that are
certified. This is important to note because if a building is not fit with
roof anchors as pictured, many buildings still may comply with the I-
14 Standard because other structural elements existing on rooftops
can be easily utilized and converted into “certified roof anchors” with
the assistance of a structural engineer. For example, vertical columns
for roof screens or structural framing supporting mechanical
equipment are likely candidates for roof anchors.

Buildings without any form of anchorage must be retrofitted with roof
anchors. The anchors must be designed by a registered professional
engineer (P.E.) and inspected annually by a qualified person.

Final Assessment
Clearly, the new Standard details responsibilities for building owners,
managers and window cleaning contractors that were previously cited
through OSHA regulation, local law, or civil litigation after accidents.
The I-14 experience proves that with clear communication and
planning, we can all offer a safer work place for window cleaning

A complete copy of The Property Professional’s Guide To The
ANSI/IWCA I-14.1 Window Cleaning Safety Standard can be
purchased by calling 800-426-6292 or at
Marco A. Giamberardino is the director of codes and standards for
BOMA International’s Advocacy Advancement Division. There he
serves as BOMA International’s point person on issues related to
building codes, industry standards, and other issues including indoor
air quality, automated external defibrillators, and accessibility. Mr.

Giamberardino holds a master’s degree in public administration, with
a concentration on state and local governing from The George
Washington University and a bachelor of arts degree in political
science and history from the State University of New York at Stony

Founded in 1907, the Building Owners and Managers Association
International is a dynamic international federation of 106 local
associations. BOMA International’s 18,000-plus members own or
manage more than 8.5 billion square feet of downtown and suburban
commercial properties and facilities in North America and abroad. The
mission of BOMA International is to advance the performance of
commercial real estate through advocacy, professional competency,
standards, and research. For more information, visit the BOMA
International Website at

7.25 Million Awarded

window cleaning safety phoenix

Note: Fortunately for Research Medical Center, this accident happened prior to the publication of the new I-14 Window Cleaning Safety Standard, otherwise they too likely would have been found negligent. The new standard clearly outlines the responsibilities of building owners.

– Kynan Wynne