Making Things Right – when roof anchors are an afterthought

af·ter·thought: /ˈaftərˌTHôt/ noun: an item or thing that is thought of or added later.

Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case with anchor or access systems on newly built properties. For all the flash and promise of life-changing lifestyle experience outlined in the fancy pre-sale brochure, something as simple as to how windows will be accessed and cleaned is often overlooked.

This was the case at The Flats, located on east Georgia, in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The new trendy modern 9 story structure was completed in 2014 and houses 29 condo units. 

We were initially approached by Tribe management in the fall of 2021, asked to provide a window cleaning and dryer vent quote for the property. We were warned that other companies had looked at the building and were unable to provide a quote, due to access issues. The building not only lacked roof anchors that could be used for rope access work, it also had power lines and other obstacles at ground level, which made elevated platform (boom lift) access impossible. 

After attending the site and making our initial assessment, we came to the conclusion that the only viable solution would be to install anchors at roof level. We engaged our construction services division to provide a deeper analysis and to provide a proposal detailing the number of anchors and locations proposed. Since some of the anchors would need to be located on the penthouse balcony, aesthetics needed to be considered and owners consulted in the process. 

In late winter, our proposal was accepted and the anchors were installed in spring of 2022, providing a safe, long-term solution for access to the exterior facade.

“I was so glad to find a company that could provide a quote for all the services we needed, AND also solve our access issues. I love that Black Tie is a one stop shop.” – Lara Carino, Community Manager, Tribe Management Inc.

It is important to note that our team is uniquely positioned to offer the most comprehensive and cost-effective solution when it comes to anchor system. Being intimately familiar with rope access regulation, we will provide a proposal that will ensure all areas of the building can be accessed safely, with the minimum number of anchors possible.

The Flats is one example of a problematic building, but we frequently come across similar issues, especially with 5 to 7 story wood frame buildings, that are too tall to be cleaned from the ground, and have no anchors that can be used for rope access or suspended work platforms. While we aim at educating developers and builders, we sometimes have to deal with what is clearly and afterthought. If you manage one of these problematic buildings, please contact us, and we will gladly help find the best solution for your property, working closely with owners or strata council to get to the best outcome.

Did you know that November is Fall Prevention Month?

At Black Tie Property Services, Fall protection is front of mind for all of the work-related activities that we do. In the window cleaning industry, a large percentage of injuries are a result of falls.

According to WCB-Alberta data, in 2015, 20.5% of Alberta’s workplace lost-time claims were the result of falls as follows:

1) 13.9 percent – fall on the same level;
2) 6.0 percent – fall to a lower level;
3) 0.6 percent – other falls.

The severity of falls is often underestimated; serious injuries or death can result from falls of as little as one metre. Unsafe ladder use, particularly in construction and maintenance, causes falls, but even stairs present a hazard. That’s why Black Tie’s number one core value is SAFETY FIRST. We employ trained professionals who adhere to the highest standards in safety.

All of our technicians from high-rise rope access to ground crews working with step ladders are trained in fall protection. We do not use subcontractors.

Here are some things we do at Black Tie to minimize the risks of falling:

  • Weekly toolbox talks
  • Monthly company-wide safety meetings
  • Created a Joint Occupational Health & Safety Committee
  • Appointed Kyle Egeland as our National Safety Coordinator. In this role, he oversees the overall safety program in place within all companies operating under the Black Tie umbrella
  • WCB + Worksafe

Hope you all stay safe out there! Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions about our safety first protocol at Black Tie.