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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Building Maintenance Units (BMU) Operations and the Work Permit System

What is BMU?

Building Maintenance Units (BMU) is a mechanically operated working platform that is suspended or hanged from structural or structural ‘arms’ down the frontage of the building. The Building Maintenance Units (BMU) podium is sustained and protected by steel wire ropes connecting through tools the structural arm to the working platform. The operation of such equipment or tools regulates the height of the BMU Podium and the parallel operation controls the BMU working platform in a horizontal condition.

While carrying out the work in Building Maintenance Units (BMU), the operators are stationed in the working platform and they regulate both the horizontal movement along with the building and the vertical movement up and down the building façade of the high-rise buildings. All workforce accomplishes their façade or other assignments with work tools, equipment and light machinery in the podium with appropriate safety. It will enable the workforce to avoid any BMU collapse or structural fatal incidents.

With the advanced high-rise building trends which prevailed comprehensively worldwide since the last century, particularly developed economical countries, such as United States of America, China, Japan, Canada etc. Mostly façade work is crafted on such high-rise buildings and the usage of Building Maintenance Units (BMU) is an integral part of such high-rise building’s MEP & cleaning work activities. Annually, several accidents occur due to the collapse of such BMU due to the extreme weather conditions (heavy and strong winds) or other mechanical failures to these BMU. So, the working from a Building Maintenance Units (BMU) is a serious working at height issue. Proper HSE training, use of pre-task briefings, toolbox talks, risk assessments and Task Risk Analysis and proper third party inspection of the BMU’s, competent operators and the appropriate standardized and recommended good quality material, PPE such as fall arrest system (use of full-body harnesses and shock absorbing lanyards are necessary for those in the working platform of Building Maintenance Units (BMU).

BMU Anchor Slings

Anchor slings are made to be encased around aspects of a structure e.g., steel beam. the anchor slings for the Building Maintenance Units (BMU) made from textiles threading should have a minimum breaking strength of 22kN while the minimum breaking strength of anchor slings made from wire rope or chain should be 15kN, as per BS 8347: 2005. For the use and maintenance of personal fall prevention systems (PFPS) and equipment for use in the worksite. Due to the crumble effect, the looping of anchor slings or lanyards through themselves that is also termed as “lark’s footing or “choking” should be neglected unless they are manufactured for such operations.

During the façade and MEP of the high-rise buildings, the correct and incorrect Anchor Points Personal fall prevention systems (IAPPFPS) should not be connected or tied-off to inappropriately or imprudent Anchor points. Such type of incorrect connections of Anchors could collapse and fail to provide the proper and desired protection and may result in critical and fatal circumstances. While conducting the inspection & observation by the competent inspector on existing structural when assessed by a competent person on existing structural equipment for use as anchor points, should be avoided corners or edges that could damage the textile-based anchors and leads to the BMU collapse. 

The following parts should never be utilized as anchor points until the minimum structural requirements have been decisive to be safe, secure and approved by a competent assessor, inspector or third party contractors:

1.      Standard Guardrails

2.      Balcony Railings

3.      Ladders or Rungs

4.      Scaffolding

5.      Light installations fixtures

6.      Plumbing installation

7.      Duct work works (Package AC systems)

8.      Secondary lanyard

9.      Chimney, vents

10.  Satellite installations.

In case the cleaner worker anchors to the platform and the cable is failed causing the working platform to inclination enormously to one side or fall to the ground and the operator would be left hanging by the damaged BMU platform or may fall to the ground within it.

A Probable Control Measure

A possible control measure is that the cleaning, operator or MEP technicians must remain attached via a Fall Arrest Device (FAD) to a self-reliant rope, anchored to fixed anchoring point directly above the platform. Due to such preventive and correct use of anchor and stationed position of workers in the podium, this will make sure that, in the unwanted event of a Building Maintenance Units (BMU) failure, the technician is held at the work position on a Separate Suspension Device (SSD), enabling controlled descent to a safe & secure level for rescue and at the same time, the Building Maintenance Units (BMU)  structural anchorages, suspension ropes and tool systems need regular observation, inspection and servicing and certification from outsourcing recommended third party contractor institutions.

Advantages of the BMU

  • The Building Maintenance Units (BMU) can be furnished with a backup or secondary hoist for facade or other building MEP
  • Manufactured for the particular tasks of standardized components in a customized way to making sure that all particular facades of the high-rise building can be reached and maintained/cleaned or other rest of MEP service accomplishment. 
  • Building Maintenance Units (BMU) is the appropriate solution for tower or high-rise multi-stories building maintenance.
  • It can be comfortably operated. For such operation, a Rope Access Technician Certification (RATC) is not needed.
  • Building Maintenance Units (BMU) is the ultimate appropriate system to cover the whole perimeter of a high-rise or multi-stories buildings.

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