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