Winter will soon be upon us, and with it can come some pretty nasty weather. The construction industry doesn’t shut down when the seasons change, though, so it’s important to be prepared to work in whatever Mother Nature decides to dish out. Here, we offer some advice to get you through inclement weather safely.
- Keep your site clear and safe. Once the winter weather begins, it’s important to clear snow and ice from walking and work surfaces, and check construction sites for hazards like downed power lines and Pay attention to ice and snow on walkways, roofs, scaffolding, and ladders, and if anything can’t be cleared make sure it’s clearly marked. Knock down any icicles that have formed, and make sure your workers are well versed in safety precautions.
- Mind the weather and your workers. Pay attention to the weather report, so that you’ll be able to instruct your workers to secure the site and go home if severe weather is on the way. As temperatures grow colder, watch for signs of hypothermia or frostbite in your workers, and make sure they’re all in weather-appropriate This means layers, with moisture-wicking thermals on the inner layer and a waterproof outer layer, being sure to limit the amount of skin exposed to cold temperatures.
- Give them shelter. It takes a lot of energy to work in cold weather, so make sure there’s a warm place for workers to take a break. Encourage frequent breaks, giving workers time to rest, warm up, drink warm liquids, and change out of wet clothing. In this heated break area, check workers for signs of fatigue, frostbite, and hypothermia.
- Stress the importance of PPE. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is essential in winter weather conditions. Hard hats with liners will protect against falling objects and help keep workers warm. Gloves and mittens should provide warmth while allowing manual dexterity, and workers should wear boots that are waterproof, with non-slip soles.
- Get tools, equipment, and vehicles ready for harsh weather, too. Warm up heavy equipment before use, paying close attention to the manufacturer’s instructions. Replace fluids as needed, making sure they’re rated for temperatures in your area, Put antifreeze tool oil in your pneumatic tools and air hoses, and drain fluid from air compressor tanks after each use to prevent Equip each of your company’s work trucks and vehicles with a winter weather emergency kit, which should include a shovel, ice scraper, and brush, sleeping bag, water, nonperishable snacks, low straps, emergency flares, and a backup cell phone battery.
- Be aware that cold and snow are not the only weather hazard. Winter storms in many parts of the country can bring lightning, which is extremely dangerous for those in the construction industry. It’s crucial that you educate your employees about the hazards of lightning, educating them on where to seek shelter and what to avoid during thunder and lightning storms.
- Seek shelter in a building or hard-topped vehicle, remaining there until 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder.
- Don’t use corded phones during a storm, though cell phones and cordless phones are safe.
- Decrease your risk of being struck by lightning by not being the tallest object in the area.
- Avoid open areas and isolated tall trees, hilltops, utility poles, cell towers, cranes, large equipment, scaffolding, or rooftops.
- Never shelter in sheds, pavilions, tents, or covered porches.
- Avoid water, wiring, plumbing, fencing, and anything else that can conduct electricity.
- Make safety your priority. Consider rescheduling jobs during inclement weather, and have a written Emergency Action Plan (EAP) so that your workers now the right protocol for staying safe.
At Work-n-Wear, we are committed to helping workers stay safe, and that’s one reason we provide protective gear with competitive pricing and an extensive inventory. Family owned and operated, we have been equipping customers in Salem, Oregon for work for over 20 years. Stop by and check out our huge selection of workwear, or learn more about all we have to offer by calling 503.364.3064 or contacting us through the website.