Lesson Learned for One Time Window Washing

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Recently, we were able to obtain approval from OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) thanks to Amit Gupta, OSHA Senior Safety Engineer, and Victoria Vu, Olympique Facade Access Project Manager, for a one time cleaning for two luxury high rise apartment towers in Little Italy.

This was a big day for us and our client, but we have to admit, the road to obtain the approvals was wrought with challenges unlike we have witnessed before and the lessons learned are profound.

Tom Brooks, Founder + CEO

As we’ve worked on several properties over the years, this was not our first one time cleaning.  On this project, however, we were collectively caught off guard and struggled incurring costs that in most cases would not be applicable.  Leading our team to a very important question, why? What led to those additional costs for our client?

Both of these towers were completed in the last 10 to 15 years.  If you are like us, when we began this project we were thinking, “what is the problem?” On both towers the Operating Procedure Outline Sheet (OPOS) was never submitted and therefore never approved by OSHA.

Now this isn’t always a big deal, simply a process that needs to be completed. But this case was unique as we discovered not only was the OPOS never submitted, it would never be approved.

For an OPOS to be approved by OSHA, the design implementation of the system has to work and be operated in such a way that Life Safety protocols are honored. While this is another hurdle, it is manageable, until it was discovered that 90% of all the original drawings, auto cad files, structural calculations, and more were missing and could not be sourced requiring all documentation to be 100% recreated. Now, we are talking significant costs.

We often take for granted the process of obtaining an OPOS on a swing stage when a building is completed, however swing stage systems are not always top of the list when completing a building.  We were briefly involved with another luxury high-rise last year and after nine years management was finally able to clean their glass without the looming threat of a fine from OSHA.

So what’s the lesson learned?

  1. Do your homework on the system before you launch off into the process.  Take occasion to fully understand all the documentation you have on file before you begin as this will save time and ward off frustration for everyone involved.
  2. Surround yourself with good counsel. On both of the properties discussed above, vendors, subcontractors and consultants were previously engaged with zero accountability and only added cost to the process thus created issues to overcome in obtaining approvals.
  3. Time.  Do not allow yourself to be pressed on setting timelines until you and your team fully understand the process before you.  Missing documents are very costly to recreate and take nothing but time and resources including constant onsite inspections and testing to ensure that the systems as installed meet the requirements of OSHA.

We have had the pleasure of working several swing stage projects over the years but none like the above.  Now that we have the one time cleaning approved, we are now working towards final approval and look forward to closing out this project in the very near future.

Thank you to the Management Team for your continued patience and to Amit at OSHA and Victoria at Olympique for working with us through this entire process.