Winter has officially arrived, and the colder weather is here to stay! Add the harsh winter weather to the already dangerous profession that is construction and the list of dangers grows tenfold. Here are seven tips to reduce the threat of serious injury during the winter months:
The first step in keep yourself and your crew warm is knowing what to expect from Mother Nature. Watching the local weather reports and checking the National Weather service can help you to determine the best times of the day to schedule work and how to prepare for the pending weather.
Wind combined with snow can create treacherous conditions and dangerously low temperatures, keeping the exposure to a minimum keeps everyone safer. Schedule work in shorter blocks with frequent breaks in a warm environment such as a trailer or heated tent.
Ensure that everyone is wearing the proper gear to handle to harsh conditions, boots, hats, gloves, heavy coats and extra layers. Requiring the proper gear can help prevent ailments like hypothermia and frostbite.
Debris of any kind on a jobsite can create risk but that’s especially true during the winter months. Snow can hide in places that you cannot see without inspection, later falling and injuring someone, so it is of vital importance to inspect the entire jobsite. Also, be sure to clear snow and ice from rooftops and overhangs.
Snow and ice should be removed, all areas should be salted or sanded, and any large patches of ice should be chipped away. It is also best to avoid working on scaffolding in the ice and snow.
Before heading out during the winter months, make sure all work vehicles are inspected and properly functioning to help prevent yourself or a crew member being stranded. Also be sure to add emergency kits to all vehicles, these kits should include an ice scraper, snow brush, shovel, tow chain, flashlight, extra batteries, emergency flares, blankets, snacks, and water.
Even if every possible measure is done to prevent injuries, issues can still arise. Knowing the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite can help workers get medical treatment sooner.
Check out the OSHA website for more safety tips on construction in the winter!