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Last edited 19 Nov 2021
Facade access equipment
The term ‘facade’ can refer to any predominantly vertical face of a building envelope, such as an external wall. In terms of the built environment, the term ‘access’ refers to the means or ability to approach and/or enter a place.
Facade access equipment is used to allow regular maintenance tasks such as cleaning and repairing surfaces, windows, glazing, cladding and other components of the facade as well as for lifting materials.
Facade access is provided by systems that allow crews to perform tasks that are required as part of their cleaning and maintenance responsibilities. Facade access equipment should provide safe access to all parts of the building facade, including hard-to-reach places.
In existing buildings, this equipment may be less than optimal if maintenance requirements were not considered during the construction process. For historic buildings, special facade access strategies and devices may be required, particularly in cases where restrictions may be imposed on projects with listed building or conservation area status.
 Temporary or permanent facade access equipment
Temporary equipment can include scaffolding and aerial work platforms. Aerial work platforms may include elevating work platforms, cherry pickers, bucket trucks, mobile elevating work platforms (MEWPs) and so on. See also: Window cleaning.
Permanent facade access may be provided by equipment such as travelling ladders (which can be electronically powered or manually moved), transport systems (such as maintenance monorails), gantries or rope systems with fixed anchors (or abseiling systems).
Recommendations and guidance for the use of rope access systems for work at height conditions is available in BS 7985:2013, Code of practice for the use of rope access methods for industrial purposes. Recommendations and guidance supplementary to BS ISO 22846.
BS 7985:2013 is applicable to the use of rope access systems in buildings where ropes are suspended from - or connected to - the structure and are used as the primary means of access, egress or support and as the primary means of protection against a fall. The standard is applicable to those who use rope access methods and those who commission rope access work (such as building owners and contractors) as well as safety officers.
There are also permanent speciality facade access systems known as suspended access equipment (SAE). This includes cradles, mechanical building maintenance units (BMUs) and other types of platforms that are generally suspended by steel wire ropes from a securely mounted overhead structure (also known as a suspension rigs).
SAEs can normally be raised and lowered and moved laterally across the façade of a building. Recommendations and guidance for SAE systems is available in BS 6037-1:2017, Planning, design, installation and use of permanently installed access equipment. Code of practice - Suspended access equipment. The standard can be used by building owners, facility managers, safety officers, architects, structural and construction engineers, and specifiers to ensure the provision of safe equipment in construction, refurbishment and facilities management.
- Building services.
- Don’t Look Down! – Skyscraper window cleaning through the ages.
- Facade cleaning.
- Facade maintenance.
- Roofing repairs.
- Safety in high places.
- Work at height.
- Work package bill of quantities.
- BSI, BS 6037-1:2017, Planning, design, installation and use of permanently installed access equipment. Code of practice - Suspended access equipment.
- BSI, BS 7985:2013, Code of practice for the use of rope access methods for industrial purposes. Recommendations and guidance supplementary to BS ISO 22846.
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