December thru February tends to be the coldest months across the United States. It is extremely important that construction crews take additional precautions against the harsh elements, especially in locations that experience frigid winters with freezing temperatures. Here are a few steps to take to ensure your workers are staying warm and safe on their job sites during these colder months.
Keep Job sites Clear of Harsh Elements
During the winter months, job sites should be inspected upon arrival for things like snow and ice, downed power lines, and any other hazardous items or material that may have blown or fallen. Salt and sand should be used to clear icy patches or the area(s) should be visibly marked if they cannot be cleared. Additionally, make sure to check equipment and surfaces such as scaffolding, ladders, and roofs.
Have Multiple Layers of Clothing
Staying warm is one of the most important factors when working in cold weather for a long period of time. The first layer (closest to your body) should be made of moisture-wicking material to help draw the sweat away from your skin. The next layer should be made of breathable material, like fleece, to help insulate, followed by an outer waterproof layer. The goal is to have enough layers to keep you warm but still allow movement that doesn’t constrict you from the physical requirements of the construction job.
Proper Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)
It’s even more important to use proper PPE in the winter months when additional hazards are present. This includes wearing hard hats at all times to protect against potential falls in slippery areas or falling objects like icicles. Safety gloves that are warm and flexible work best in colder environments and should be worn during every task on the job site, along with waterproof boots and safety goggles. Additionally, be sure to regularly check fall equipment – making sure it properly fits over bulkier clothing and that straps aren’t frozen.
Offer a Heated Break Area
Job sites should include a heated trailer, tent, or indoor area for workers to use to warm up and keep their bodies heated. Encourage frequent usage of this warming area and check for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.
Stock Emergency Kits in Vehicles
Your company’s fleet of vehicles should all be equipped with winter emergency kits. Shovels, scrapers, brushes, blankets, hand warmers, tow straps, emergency flares, flashlights, batteries, and emergency info cards are helpful items to have in the work trucks.
Know the Weather
Make sure you are keeping tabs on the forecast. Being aware of impending inclement weather allows for workers to secure their site and get to their homes before severe weather hits.