To a window cleaner, every day brings a new set of exciting variables to consider from job to job. If window cleaning were only a matter of using one squeegee, everyone would do it. Instead, it’s a constant consideration of safety measures, best practices, and even some climbing of buildings.
If tomorrow you were to find yourself with a job that put you on the top of a roof, would you know what equipment you needed, and how to keep yourself and others safe?
The most common practice is to attach a rope grab to both the rope and your harness. It’s vital to make sure that the rope grab fits the size and type of rope with which you are working.
It’s important to note that we DO NOT recommend using a hand ascender as a rope grab. Read more here.
From this point, identify the lanyard length requirement for your specific rope grab. The longer the lanyard, the more clearance is required to prevent you from hitting the ground should the shock pack deploy.
With that said, we suggest using the shortest lanyard length possible, or better yet, no lanyard at all if that will work for your setup.
For example, the Petzl ASAP can connect directly to the D ring on your harness. Although seemingly simple, make sure to read the directions to decipher which D ring is the correct one. The ASAP allows you to walk freely without a lanyard connection.
Instead of a rope grab, you can also use certain descenders to connect you to the rope. In general, self-braking descenders work best.
The Petzl ID is a great example. When it’s locked, it keeps you secure to one position. To walk the roof, flip the handle to the other side and pull the rope slack through. It will then lock back into place. To go back down the roof, hold the device at an angle so that the handle is perpendicular to the ground and sticking straight up into the air. Always make sure to keep extra slack out of the line to minimize fall distance.
If you were to take a fall while using this device/method, the descender would lock into place, keeping you safe.
You can also use the handle as a descender to lower yourself down the building. This method is recommended if you are leaning your weight against the descender’s hold.
If you are having a great day and are lucky enough to have an anchor on the roof (a chimney for example), you may not need a rope at all.
A Self Retracting Lifeline (SRL) can connect directly to an anchor. The length of an SRL will vary. Some are a few feet while others are hundreds of feet in length. When using an SRL, it will extend out when walking away, and retract as you walk towards it. In case of a fall, it will immediately lock. SRLs are an excellent option for minimizing fall distance when you have low clearance.
We always recommend training before attempting off-the-ground work. Safety is paramount, and the most crucial factor. Once you are trained, it will benefit your company and you by allowing you to add more complex jobs. If you are unsure how to find an anchor in the first place, click here to read how.
Make sure to follow our Rooftop Safety series for the inside scoop on equipment, tools, and best practices.