Although we hate to admit the end of summer is nearing, the winter season is just around the corner. For construction workers and companies, this means taking the proper steps to ensure safety, in some unsafe outdoor conditions.
Freezing weather, snow, icy grounds, and other dangers you can’t see are lurking around, and therefore, you need to take the right protocol to keep worksites safe.
A safety cone is obviously one of the many pieces of equipment you’ll utilize on a construction site to warn pedestrians of upcoming construction. But, these are some additional safety tips to keep workers, as well as pedestrians and drivers safe, regardless of how bad the winter weather gets.
Provide a Break Area and Discourage Coffee Breaks
In rigid temperatures, your workers need somewhere to warm their bodies up. Limit exposure to the elements, and schedule shorter workdays when the temperatures dip too low.
Another essential way to keep workers safe is to discourage coffee breaks. Sure, your construction team might think they need a cup of coffee to warm up and help wake them up.
The issue with this is that coffee can increase the heart rate, making workers feel they are warmer than they believe. Save the coffee talk for after the workday has ended.
Proper Gear is a Must
You’ll need to have the right gear to work in freezing temperatures. Gloves, hats, heavy boots, winter jackets, and warm leggings are necessary for certain regions where temperatures get very cold.
In addition to the warm layers, the proper safety gear is also essential, especially on days where it is dark, gloomy, and foggy, or is snowing. Some items to place around the construction site are
- Parking cones
- Flashing lights
- Have workers wear reflective vests
- Parking barricades
And, any other bright warning signs should be placed around the construction site. This helps workers know the boundaries of where they’re working. It also allows pedestrians and traffic (drivers) to see there’s upcoming construction, from a greater distance when the weather is dark.
Inspect the Job Site
No matter where a construction project is taking place, make sure it is wholly inspected during the winter months (and year-round for that matter).
Downed power lines, trees, stumps, and debris can wreak havoc during the winter. If the area isn’t clear and snowfall hits overnight, this can make the worksite very dangerous.
If there is ice or smooth roads, make sure salt is laid down on the ground for workers. Icicles should be knocked down off roofs or poles before beginning work.
The clearer and cleaner a job site is before you begin the job, the safer the area is going to be for your construction crew during the winter months.
Warm-up Equipment/Tools Before Beginning the Job
Just like you warm up your car’s engine in the winter, you’ll want to do the same with the tools you’ll use on the construction job site. Electric wires and hoses become brittle in cold temperatures.
Therefore, it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s warnings about adequately warming up these, and other power tools, prior to putting them to use on the site.
Fluids for hydraulic equipment and other electrical equipment should also be rated for cold temperatures. Heaters in cabs and other vehicles should be working correctly as well. This will help remove ice and keep the windshield clear while construction workers are in these vehicles and working on the job site.
Ladders, scaffolds, and other equipment can get slick with ice and snow. Therefore, it’s important to wipe these down before construction crews climb up them. Just like you’ll lay down salt on the ground to prevent your team from slipping, you’ll want to prep the equipment they’re climbing up/down on all day accordingly for their safety as well.
Weather-resistant supplies are available for you to purchase so that you can apply them onto the equipment your workers will use. This helps pre-treat the material to minimize the possibility of falling and other injuries.
With cold weather, snow, ice, and low levels of visibility, the more safety measures you take, the safer your crew will be on a construction job site. Furthermore, the more likely it is you’ll keep pedestrians and oncoming traffic safe as well, as they’re approaching a construction site.
For construction companies preparing for big jobs during the winter months, consider a few of these tips to increase safety, and make work conditions as enjoyable as possible as the weather begins to plummet.