Safety Using Water Fed Pole,

Discussion in 'Managing Your Cleaning Business' started by rcproperty, Feb 2, 2013.

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  1. rcproperty

    rcproperty Hero

    Jun 16, 2012
    Likes Received:
    been meaning to get this on here for a while but thought i would give you all a rest of H&S stuff, until now! lol

    Avoiding Risk

    The use of waterfed poles removes the need to work at height and provided the window to be cleaned can be viewed from the ground without obstruction, it is possible to clean using a waterfed pole. Although adopting waterfed pole use may remove the risks involved when working at height consideration must be given to both operational risks and other less obvious risks that apply to waterfed pole use.

    When assessing operational risks consideration must be given to the location of the building, its design, site conditions, obstacles, terrain underfoot, weather conditions and overhead power sources. The suitability of the operator with regard to their level of fitness and medical history and the need to identify any muscular or skeletal disorders that may develop as a result of operating a pole using poor technique.

    Less obvious risks include the consequences of carrying tanks, systems and equipment that are heavy unstable, unsecured or incorrectly installed within a vehicle, as well as the potential for the spread of legionella disease caused by poorly maintained filter systems.

    Hazards associated with the use of waterfed poles.

    • Trip hazard presented by trailing hoses.
    • Slip hazard presented from wet pathways.
    • Trip hazard for operator while concentrating on work.
    • Falls while working from flat roofs.
    • Electrocution from pole coming into contact with overhead power source.
    • Injury to others from falling poles or objects than may become dislodged.
    • Injury to others from falling poles caused by incorrect handling, or failure of pole.
    • Injury through incorrect manual handling of poles and other equipment.
    • Spread of legionella disease through poor maintenance of the system.
    • Hazards from carrying tanks, systems and equipment that are heavy, unstable, unsecured or incorrectly installed within a vehicle.

    Legionnaires Disease
    Legionella Bacteria can be found in low levels in most water sources, the presence of a few bacteria is in itself unlikely to cause a problem, it is when they begin to multiply that the risk increases. They require nutrients to multiply, these can be provided by sediment, scale, sludge and biofilms. These materials build up in the filters used to purify water, if not replaced at specified intervals filters may become a fertile breeding ground for legionella bacteria. Water temperature is a particularly important factor in the survival and multiplication of legionella, when the temperature of water rises above 20 degrees the bacteria begin to multiply, the optimum temperature being 37 degrees.

    Contracting the disease
    The disease is normally contracted after the inhalation of the bacterium in small droplets (aerosols) or in droplet nuclei that is the residue after the water has evaporated. Waterfed poles produce aerosols and it should be noted that aerosols are not restricted to the point of production.Under suitable wind conditions, viable bacteria can travel up to 500 metres.
    Legionella will not normally multiply in cold water systems or even hot water systems when the water is heated at point of use, or when the system is in regular use.

    However legionella will multiply when the right conditions exist, these are;
    • When sediment, scale, sludge and biofilms build up in filters.
    • When water temperatures rise above 20 degrees. Measures that should be taken to control the risk of legionella are;
    • Replacement of filters at recommended intervals.
    • Following the manufacturers servicing recommendations.
    • Keeping the system stored in a cool place when not in regular use.
    • If system cannot be stored in a cool place, drain tank and filters whenever the system is to be left standing idle for more than three days during warm summer months.

    Choice of tank system and equipment

    Will be determined by:
    • The duration and extent of work.
    • The height of windows to be cleaned.
    • The site conditions.
    • The means of purified water delivery required.

    For some jobs waterfed poles may be used in support of other access methods, for domestic properties to reach conservatory roofs or other windows inaccessible to ladders.

    For many buildings however waterfed poles may be used for the entire cleaning operation. Due to the physical rigor of prolonged use consideration should be given to the weight of the pole, the lightest pole being the one that adequately reaches the top of the window but does not over reach. i.e. do not use a 45ft pole to clean a window that is 20ft high. Composite poles will be best suited for use on sites such as those near to railways, factories, and electricity generating stations or substations or any other site that poses an increased risk of electrocution.

    Purified water may be delivered to the waterfed pole by flexible hose from a variety of sources, these include de-ionising cylinders/columns or cartridges, vehicle and trailer mounted systems and static systems incorporated into the building design. Delivery hoses pose a trip hazard that can be minimised if brightly coloured hose is used and warning signs are displayed were ever hoses cross a walkway.

    Care should be taken to ensure that the weight of the filled water tank does not exceed the vehicles payload or towing capacity and allowance should be made for the weight of other equipment that may need to be carried as well as the weight of personnel travelling in the vehicle.

    Recovering a Falling Waterfed Pole

    During proper use it would be unlikely for a waterfed pole operator to loose control of the pole to the extent where it may fall to the ground. However, in the event that a waterfed pole begins to fall to either side then swift action is required by the operator to bring the pole back under control. By stepping quickly in the direction of the fall the operator should be able to recover the pole to the vertical position, the quicker the reaction the easier it will be to recover the pole. It is easy to create a simulated pole fall in a simple drill that can be practiced during training sessions and it is recommended that waterfed pole operators become familiar with this technique by undertaking regular practice sessions.

    Manual Handling (Portable Systems)

    Portable waterfed pole systems include trolleys and backpack’s (modified garden sprayers), as well as providing a useful solution for difficult to access areas, portable systems present themselves as “starter systems”. Due to their limited capacity frequent refilling is necessary, one favoured method is to decant purified water from 25 litre plastic containers. At the upper limit of an individuals lifting capability, lifting and then pouring with a bent back should be avoided or be carried out by two persons, using a pump would be a more suitable means of transferring water. When filled or even partially filled, lifting either trolleys or backpacks in and out of vehicles should be avoided, portable systems should be emptied prior to lifting single handedly, lifting 50 litre capacity trolleys with any amount of water should be carried out by two persons. A more suitable means of moving trolleys in and out of vehicles is by means of a ramp.
    When filled backpack sprayers are heavy and difficult to install on the wearers back, ideally assistance should be sort from a second person, alternatively lift a filled backpack to a suitable staging position such as a garden wall or other platform at waist height. In normal use backpack sprayers are used for short duration tasks such as spraying weed-killer and the operator maintains his/her balance because they will normally be directing their attention toward the ground. The potential to lose ones balance will be increased for an operator using a waterfed pole with arms raised and head extended, for this reason the maximum height for cleaning should be limited to first floor only. Backpack users should not attempt to carry additional water containers to the job site while wearing a filled backpack.

    Risk Assessment

    The purpose of risk assessment is simply to identify particular risks on any job in order to take precautions to minimise them, typically these may include:
    • Instruction in the need for the operator to be vigilant with regard to the surroundings.
    • Providing adequate PPE and or roof edge protection.
    • Giving consideration to the day and time of cleaning.
    • Provision of hi-viz clothing.
    • Cordoning off work areas to prevent public access
  2. Tuffers

    Tuffers Hero

    Sep 10, 2012
    Likes Received:
    tl;dr haha
  3. nearlyclean


    Dec 20, 2010
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    We need to think more about wfp safety. Well done with this post
  4. rcproperty

    rcproperty Hero

    Jun 16, 2012
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    yer people are always going on about ladders etc, but never really talk about poles safety etc
  5. harunh

    harunh Legend

    Feb 16, 2012
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    poles are very dangerous when you think about it .... the more extended the pole is ... the less control you have over the pole ....

    Ive had my pole extended to 30ftish before and sometimes when u get a sudden gust of wind u can feel your pole drifting to 1 side...

    but i can easily control it cos all i do is walk to the same side and pull it back.... i think im good at using wfp :D lol but .... its all about observation if u ask me :)
  6. charlie

    charlie Active Member

    Mar 1, 2013
    Likes Received:
    good post