Operational, technical and maintenance work is part and parcel of any building’s lifecycle to ensure the longevity and longterm value of the asset, and this is certainly the case for Western Europe’s tallest building: The Shard. When it comes to work being carried out at height, a proactive approach to health and safety is required, with robust measures, static and dynamic risk assessment, and health and safety management processes in place to eliminate the chance of an incident occurring.
The Shard has 14 purpose built building maintenance units (BMUs) which are used to reach levels four to 94, as well as seven gondolas that clean from level four and below. This requires specialist maintenance procedures and a bespoke approach to health and safety that goes beyond standard methodology.
Standing at 310m high, the change in weather and climatic conditions from top to bottom is another huge consideration when it comes to carrying out work at the higher levels. Weather is one of our key concerns. Rain, temperature and wind all have the ability to prevent works at height.
In line with the industry standard, every individual carrying out work at height must be fully trained and qualified to legal requirements, including ‘familiarisation’ training on each specific BMU, harness experience and ‘Work At Height Awareness’ training.
“when dealing with the unique set of circumstances that tall buildings such as The Shard present, it is important to continually review and even challenge typical health and safety methods”
To operate the BMUs, our operatives comply with the UK’s “Working at Height Regulations 2005”. These include, but are not limited to:
- Planning and organisation, such as confirming safe methods of BMU operation and highlighting the rescue plan if power is lost to the unit
- Risk assessment of processes to ensure the most appropriate equipment is used, including access and egress to and from the BMU from within the building’s ‘BMU garages’
- Ensuring competent workers – our service partners demonstrate the qualification, skills and knowledge to work safely with the access equipment provided
- Prioritising collective protection measures over the individual protection measures – with fit-for purpose access routes, edge protection and the BMU access equipment all providing a higher level of safety to window cleaners, façade inspectors and maintenance engineers
- Rigorous inspection and testing of access equipment and associated plant, including a programme of BMU ‘cradle’ tests and inspections by the insurers, the BMU service provider, and the operatives accessing the equipment – before and after use
When dealing with the unique set of circumstances that tall buildings such as The Shard present, however it is important to continually review and even challenge typical health and safety methods. While compliance with industry standards is a given, there is a need to go further to minimise any elements of risk and stringent measures are required for each stage of the process. This is exemplified in our BMU operating requirements for before, during and after the work is complete.