Access Equipment

Access Equipment

One of the benefits of Softwashing is that expensive and risky access equipment can be avoided. Extending water fed poles can reach up to 60 feet and this means that many buildings can be safely cleaned entirely from the safety of the ground. Due to excess height, unconventional architectural projections, and uneven ground- cleaning from the ground is not always possible. In these situations softwashing contractors will use access equipment to reach all elevations. The costs and risks of this equipment should be considered. Similarly customers should ensure that the contractor is adequately trained and insured to work using access equipment- and that the correct procedures are being followed.


It is only safe to work on a ladder, or step ladders for periods of up to 30 mins. Ladders must be positioned and manned appropriately, and with the correct equipment heights up to 60 feet can be reached without a ladder in most cases. Softwashing equipment is bulky, and the process of softwashing requires dynamic movement from time to time. For all of these reasons therefore softwasing from a ladder is not generally recommended, unless in a small area that cannot otherwise be accessed, for a very short period of time. If a softwashing contractor is proposing using ladders then this needs to be justified in detail to the customer, and why alternatives are not appropriate should be explained. Ladders for softwasing are far from ideal. They are however cheap- which is why lower end contractors may suggest using them (usually unsafely).

Tower Scaffold

If the ground Is even and stable, and the surface area large enough, a tower scaffold can be erected quickly and cost effectively. This will add 10-12m of elevation and provide  a safe working platform with far more stability than a ladder. Staff erecting and transporting the tower should have the relevant PASMA qualification (Prefabricated Access Suppliers Manufacturing Association). 

Contractors should explain to the customer the areas where a scaffold tower is needed, show PASMA qualifications if asked, and  demonstrate that the tower can be safely used and erected.


Erecting full scaffolding is expensive and time consuming, and similarly the contractors should possess the relevant PASMA qualifications. Use of scaffold is not usually justified on cost grounds- but if other work- painting for example- is also taking place- then using the same access scaffold is justifiable. In most cases avoid the use of scaffold wherever, apart from scaffold towers.


MEWP stands for Moving Elevating Work Platform- they are commonly called Cherry Pickers. They are less expensive than scaffolding in general, but more expensive than mobile scaffold towers. They can reach up to 186 feet, depending on the model, with a reach of up to 80 feet. This makes them ideal for taller buildings. 

There are two basic types of MEWP- vehicle mounted MEWPS (cherry pickers on the back of a van or lorry). And Spider MEWPs, which transport themselves on tracks, a little like a tank. While the SPider MEWPS are more expensive to hire and fuel they do allow access where vehicles cannot reach- on even or soft ground for example. 

If a contractor is using a MEWP they should possess the relevant IPAF qualifications (International Powered Access Association)

Abseil Rope Access

When a building is too tall to use a MEWP, and if there is safe access to the roof (as is the case in most tall buildings due to maintenance requirements) then abseil rope access is a valid option. This is costly due the risks involved- but still cheaper than scaffolding large areas. The contractor (or their subcontractor) should have the relevant IRATA training certification (Industrial Rope Access Trade Association).