Safety Takes the High Road at IWCA Convention
The Jan. 27-30 meeting at the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev., culminates with an eight-hour Safety Training Seminar.
- By Jerry Laws
- Jan 01, 2010
Safety is a high priority, in both senses of the word, for the International Window Cleaning Association and its 650 member companies, many of which will be represented when IWCA hosts its 21st Annual Convention & Trade Show at the Silver Legacy Resort and Casino in Reno, Nev., this month. The Jan. 27-30 meeting culminates with an eight-hour Safety Training Seminar that provides classroom training and hands-on instruction on boom lift safety, ladder safety, and self-rescue techniques. Each participant will have the opportunity for one-on-one instruction on proper safety procedures under the direction of qualified safety trainers.
IWCA Safety Director Stefan Bright said the safety portion of the meeting takes place on a Saturday so window cleaning contractors can send their employees to attend it. Attendance at the seminar is 120 to 150 people annually, Bright said Dec. 10.
The day starts with five to six hours of classroom instruction delivered by Bright. “We’re talking about overall safety, which for a cleaning contractor is planning ahead,” he said, “which is the most important thing they can do for commercial or residential [work].” Fall protection, ladder safety, and rope descending systems, the most popular method for cleaning windows, are covered during this portion.
The entire group then goes outdoors, weather permitting, and the students are divided into three groups that go through each of three stations: 1) ladder set-up and takedown; 2) safe operation of an aerial manlift; 3) a climbing wall. “We hang guys off a rope in their full-body harness like they’ve had a fall and they’re hanging there, and you need to get them down as quickly as possible,” said Bright, who has been IWCA’s safety director for 17 years and also is mid-Atlantic regional director for American Anchor, s Foxboro, Mass.-based provider of fall protection equipment and systems used by building owners, real estate managers, architects, and construction companies.
A partner company provides training on safe use of powered suspended scaffolds during the convention, he said.
New Edition of ANSI/IWCA I-14.1 Coming This Year
Bright and a colleague will present a session on the ANSI/IWCA I-14.1 Window Cleaning Safety Standard from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Jan. 28. "The I-14 Safety Standard – How it Can Work for You!” will cover the history of the standard, how OSHA uses the standard to enforce window cleaning safety, and how window cleaning contractors and their customers benefit from understanding the standard's requirements.
Since the standard was initially issued in 2001, OSHA has recognized it in several General Duty Clause enforcement cases, including 16 cases filed against window cleaning companies in 2008 alone where assessed penalties averaged more than $3,000, Bright said.
A revised edition of the I-14.1 standard went through a public review in 2009. In December 2009, the committee in charge of the revision was addressing more than 110 pages of comments received from stakeholders, with a committee meeting scheduled for this spring to review the draft and then conduct a second public review before issuing the new edition later this year. Bright said the new edition contains significant clarifications but no major changes. For example, it will clarify the testing of anchor points from which cleaners tie off to descend the face of a building.
Five hundred to 600 people usually attend the IWCA annual convention, with at least 100 attendees coming from outside the United States. Registrations for this month’s convention were ahead of registrations a year ago for the 2009 meeting as of Dec. 10, a positive sign that the economic challenges of 2009 might be receding, he said. Window cleaning of a commercial or residential building is typically in the bottom 10 percent of the owner’s budget, and many commercial buildings had trouble keeping tenants during 2009, he noted.
“Anybody that owns a building in the last year or two has been watching the dollars. So it has not been the best of times,” Bright said.