Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.
This guideline has been prepared to help workplace parties understand and comply with some of their obligations under the Regulation for Window Cleaning, R.R.O. 1990, Regulation 859 ("Regulation 859" or "Reg. 859") and the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) as they apply to window cleaning.
Its purpose is to assist design engineers, building owners, employers, supervisors and workers by setting out some of the requirements of Regulation 859 as it applies to:
This guideline references the following sources:
The OHSA, in conjunction with Regulation 859, outlines the legislative and regulatory requirements for engineers, building owners, employers, supervisors and workers in the window cleaning industry. Each owner, employer, supervisor and worker is required to be familiar with and comply with the legislation and its regulations. All of these workplace parties have responsibilities under the OHSA and its regulations. It is important to note that the term "employer" under the OHSA includes a contractor or subcontractor who performs work or supplies services and a contractor or subcontractor who undertakes with an owner, constructor, contractor, subcontractor to perform work or supply services.
In the context of window cleaning workplaces, inspectors with the Ministry of Labour will apply and enforce the requirements of the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This Guideline does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way. However, an inspector may refer to the Guideline in determining whether an employer has taken every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker as required under the OHSA.
Before any worker begins window cleaning at a building for which a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment is used, every employer, contractor and sub-contractor who proposes to carry out window cleaning at the building shall give notice of the proposed window cleaning by telephone to an inspector in the office of the Ministry of Labour that is nearest to the building [Reg. 859, section 7(1)].
An electronic Notice of Window Cleaning Work form is available from the Ministry of Labour website.
The fall arrest system shall:
All fall arrest components should be compatible and Canadian Standards Association (CSA) certified.
When workers are required to access a roof or similar elevated area and to travel within 2 m of an edge or opening that poses a fall hazard, fall protection should be provided by one or more of the following (in descending order of preference):
If a worker who is not working from a ladder is exposed to the hazard of falling more than 3 m, the worker shall use a fall arrest system that is adequately secured to a fixed support and arranged so that the worker cannot fall freely for a vertical distance of more than 1.5 m [Reg. 859, section 10(2)].
All suspended scaffolds that are designed for the purpose of gaining access to exterior and interior surfaces of buildings and other structures shall be designed in accordance with applicable regulations and should be designed in accordance with applicable standards.
Every primary suspension line used in connection with a suspended scaffold shall be rigged so that each line hangs vertically from the roof or access level to the ground or level of egress of a worker using the line [Reg. 859, section 27].
Restraint of a suspended platform to the exterior face of a building or structure at suspension heights from 15 m to 45 m shall be provided by angulated roping or by a purpose built stabilization system [CAN/CSA Z271-10 clauses 9.5.2, 18.104.22.168, 22.214.171.124].
The exterior face of a building or structure shall have a positive means of restraining the suspended scaffold to the building or structure when the suspension height exceeds 45 m [CAN/CSA Z271 clause 126.96.36.199].
A boatswain's chair shall not be used where the descent exceeds 90 m [Reg. 859, section 28].
Mid-air transfers from one boatswain's chair to another are prohibited.
In the case of an existing vertical ladder used at an industrial establishment, as defined by the OHSA, the requirements of section 18(1)(d) of the Industrial Establishments Regulation [R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 851] would apply.
A ladder, used to access a roof through a hatch way, shall be capable of extending at least 1 m beyond the roof hatch in order for a worker to maintain three-point-contact while he or she attempts to access the roof surface.
Adequate means for safe access of workers shall be provided where the height of a parapet exceeds 1.07 m and an adequate fall protection system shall be used where the height of a parapet exceeds 3 m [clause 9.3.2 CAN/CSA Z271.10].
Every worker who is on, or is in the process of getting on or off a suspended scaffold or a boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment shall be protected by a fall arrest system [Reg. 859, section 31].
Every owner of a building where a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment is to be used for window cleaning or where sill work is done shall, among other things:
The support capability of an anchor point shall exceed the total breaking strength of all support lines attached to it [Reg. 859, section 29(2)].
Anchor points for vertical lifelines, equipment tieback and direct attachment of primary lines for suspended equipment shall:
Note: the above tests shall be witnessed and certified by a professional engineer.
Adhesive anchor installations shall:
Systems incorporating adhesive expansion fasteners shall also have 100% of the anchor points load tested at intervals not exceeding five years [CAN/CSA Z271-10 clause 9.4.3 (b)].
Generally, pre-cast concrete and cast-in-place concrete parapet walls designed as part of an original wall design are acceptable for installation of anchors for window cleaning purposes and/or the support of parapet wall clamps, provided the parapet wall is approved by a professional engineer who is aware of loads to be placed on the wall.
A tie-back anchor elevation for a portable outrigger shall not be more than 1 m above the point of suspension [CAN/CSA Z91-02].
Lifeline and tieback anchors should be located in line with the point of suspension whenever practical, but shall not be offset more than 3 m (10 ft) measured horizontally from a line running at a right angle to the building face at the point of suspension. The angle created by the offset distance shall not exceed 25 degrees [5.4.4 of CAN/CSA Z91-02].
A continuous rail may generally be substituted for a series of separate anchors if it has been designed by a professional engineer for the intended purpose. It is also generally acceptable to tie both equipment tieback and lifelines to the rail or beam provided that each line is attached to a separate trolley and the system is designed by a professional engineer for all loads likely to be applied as if it were an extension of the roof structure, and installed in accordance with the design.
The structural adequacy of the building to support built-in-place anchor points used to support lifelines and suspension equipment in new construction must be verified in writing by the professional engineer in charge during the construction of the building.
The structural adequacy of a structure to support retrofitted anchor points, used to support lifelines and suspension equipment, must be verified in writing by a professional engineer.
Every owner of a building where a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment is to be used for window cleaning or where sill work is done shall cause all anchor points and permanently-installed suspended scaffolds to be inspected by a competent person before being used for the first time and thereafter as often as necessary but not less frequently than recommended by the manufacturer of the anchor points or the suspended scaffolds, as the case may be, and in any case, at least once a year; and when informed under section 43 of a defect or inadequacy [Reg. 859, section 41(1)].
Clause 11.3.3 of CAN/CSA Standard Z271-10 provides guidance for new or altered anchor points.
The inspection shall include, but not be limited to:
A building owner shall obtain a signed and sealed inspection report from a professional engineer concerning the inspection of the anchor system. This report should also be included in the equipment log [CAN/CSA Z91-02].
A building owner shall keep a record of the inspections of any anchor points and any permanently installed suspended scaffold at a building in a log book to be maintained and retained as long as the anchor points and suspended scaffold are used, showing:
Static or horizontal lines that are rigged between anchor points and to which lifelines or primary support lines are directly attached must be used as a professional engineer directs, and the professional engineer must certify the maximum load to be applied to the static or horizontal line [Reg. 859, section 29].
Generally, a davit base with an attachment point may be used as anchor for a life line or tie back if:
Section 3 of Regulation 859 may be used by an employer or building owner to vary the design or arrangement of any material, object, device or thing required by the Regulation provided the variation affords equal or greater protection to the health and safety of workers. The onus is on the employer/building owner to demonstrate that the varied method of protection meets or exceeds the protection that would otherwise be provided by complying with what is prescribed in the Regulation. An inspector's determination of what may be considered acceptable under section 3 will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Where an employer or building owner intends to rely on section 3 to use permanent davits, to demonstrate that the use of permanent davits affords equal or greater protection to the health and safety than would otherwise be provided by complying with what is required by the Regulation, the employer/building owner should be able to show:
Where an employer or building owner intends to rely on section 3 to use portable davits, to demonstrate that the use of portable davits affords equal or greater protection to the health and safety than would otherwise be provided by complying with what is required by the Regulation, the employer/building owner should be able to show:
Suspension equipment should be designed so that the maximum weight of any portable component does not exceed 70 kg. Consideration should be given to the ergonomics of handling and erecting the equipment with not more than two workers [CAN/CSA Z271-10 clause 7.2.1].
Where there is a risk of portable equipment (davits & outriggers) falling over the edge of a roof during setup, it shall be secured by a safety cable or equivalent before installation and it shall remain in place until the work has been completed [clauses 5.5.3 and 5.5.4 CAN/CSA Z91-02 and clause 9.13.1 CAN/CSA Z271-10].
A lifeline used in a fall arrest system, shall:
Every lifeline used in connection with a suspended scaffold that is permanently installed on a building or structure; a suspended scaffold that is transported in component form and is assembled for use at a work site; and a boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment intended for the support of one worker shall, among other things:
Lifeline rope shall be of a type that is resistant to deterioration by chemical solutions used in operations and by exposure to atmospheric conditions of sunlight and moisture. All non-metal ropes that are not specifically designated as UV rated for exterior use shall not be used [CAN/CSA Z91-02 clause 5.2.6].
The termination of a worker's lifeline shall not be connected to portable equipment such as a parapet wall clamp, davit boom, cornice hook or outrigger beam [clause 5.3.3 CAN/CSA Z91-02].
Lifelines shall not be rigged where they can exert any force on a balcony or terrace rail unless the item or system has been engineered to support all loads to which it may be subjected to [clause 6.5 of CAN/CSA Z91-02].
The lifeline may be redirected from an anchor point to a davit arm or a certified engineered device providing a letter from a professional engineer states that:
Where there is a risk of a lifeline slipping around the edge of a building, engineered rope stops/rope deflectors shall be installed [CAN/CSA Z91-02 clauses 5.4.6 and 5.4.7].
Can suspension lines and life lines follow the profile of the building from the roof/or access level? (See Figure 1).
Section 3 of Regulation 859 may be used by an employer or building owner to vary the design or arrangement of any material, object, device or thing required by the Regulation provided the variation affords equal or greater protection to the health and safety of workers. The onus is on the employer/building owner to demonstrate that the varied method of protection meets or exceeds the protection that would otherwise be provided by complying with what is prescribed in the Regulation.
An inspector's determination of what may be considered acceptable under section 3 would be made on a case-by-case basis.
Where an employer or building owner intends to rely on section 3 to arrange the lines in a non-vertical configuration, to demonstrate that this varied arrangement affords equal or greater protection to the health and safety than would otherwise be provided by complying with what is required by the Regulation, the employer must be able to show:
A lanyard used in a fall arrest system shall have a nominal diameter of at least 16 mm and be made of nylon rope or another durable and adequate material [Reg. 859, section 10(5)]. However, a shock absorber type lanyard (certified by CSA) is recommended as best practice and it should be as short as possible. In addition, it should be compatible with the components used in the fall protection system.
Electrical equipment, power lines and insulating materials shall be suitable for its or their use and be installed, maintained, modified and operated so as not to present a hazard to a worker [Reg. 859, section 32].
Consideration should be given to the ergonomics of lifting electrical and suspension lines on buildings greater than 90 m in height. Mechanical means shall be used to raise or lower lines where the height exceeds 90 m [CAN/CSA Z91-02 clause 5.2.4].
Every worker on a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment shall have an effective means of summoning assistance in case of emergency [Reg. 859, section 31].
Note: Generally, an effective means of summoning assistance is based on site specific conditions where the means of summoning assistance can be easily heard and understood by a person from any part of the building. In some cases, a cell phone or other electronic device may be required as a reasonable precaution for the safety of a worker.
Every owner of a building where a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment is to be used for window cleaning shall prepare a sketch or sketches showing all anchor points and related structures on the building that are suitable and adequate for the attachment of the suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment and the lifeline [Reg. 859, section 39(1)].
As a minimum, the sketch should include, but not be limited to:
The building owner must provide a copy of the sketch(s) to the person supplying the window cleaning services before the work is begun and no employer may permit a worker to engage in window cleaning using a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment until the employer has received a copy of the sketch or sketches [Reg. 859, section 39(2)].
The building owner shall post a copy of the above noted sketch(s) near the entrance to the roof [Reg. 859, section 39(3)].
Every employer who proposes to carry out window cleaning using a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment or to carry out sill work shall prepare a work plan in writing, signed by the employer, indicating the manner in which any primary support lines and lifelines used are to be attached to the anchor points or related structures shown on any sketch(s) required by Regulation 859 and setting out such other information as may be required for the safety of workers. [Reg. 859, section 42(1)].
A work plan shall be prepared by the employer based on the roof sketch. The work-plan shall describe the intended work methods and necessary rigging procedures in accordance with the roof sketch. The work plan shall include, but not be limited to:
A copy of the work plan is to be provided to each worker who engages in window cleaning or sill work at the building and shall retain a copy for examination by an inspector [Reg. 859, section 42(2)].
No worker shall begin window cleaning that requires the use of a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment and no worker may begin doing sill work until the worker has received a copy of the work plan [Reg. 859 section 42(3)].
Every employer of a worker who engages in window cleaning using a suspended scaffold, boatswain's chair or similar single-point suspension equipment and every contractor and sub-contractor who proposes to carry out window cleaning in that manner shall appoint a supervisor. In addition, the supervisor shall visit the location of the window cleaning operation at least once daily [Reg. 859, section 44].
Workers shall not walk on or place any significant loads on any glass surface or frame, or both, in a skylight or atrium or canopy unless the glazing system has been engineered to safely permit this access method [CAN/CSA Z91 clause 6.1.3].
For training requirement refer to section 9(2) and section 45 of Reg. 859 and reference should also be made to clause 3 of CAN/CSA Standard Z91-02.
Equipment shall be secured from unauthorized use by mean of a lockout, disabling of the power source, or equivalent means. The public must be restricted from access to the support system area by adequate barriers, warning signs, or equivalent safeguards. The equipment, when not in use should be secured in a stored position [clause 7.1 CAN/CSA Z91-02].
If practicable, signs containing the words "DANGER – WORK OVERHEAD" in legible letters must be posted in prominent locations and in sufficient number to warn pedestrians that window cleaning is being carried out overhead. [Reg. 859, section 12.]
|kN = kilonewtons||lbf = pound force|
|kg = kilograms||lb = pounds|
|m = metres||ft = feet|
|mm = millimetres||in = inches|
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