Get your construction equipment nice and toasty because the construction never stops, even on a chilly day. The winter weather does not halt construction which is why it’s important to know what steps to take to keep your workers warm and safe. Here are some helpful tips to help mitigate accidents.
Inspect & Clear Job Sites
Before permitting employees to begin work, inspect your building sites for downed power wires and trees when winter weather strikes. Clear any snow and ice off walkways, rooftops, scaffolding, and ladders, as well as all other walking and working surfaces. Be sure to remind your workers of the importance of fall safety protection to the workers during icy conditions.
Salt or sand can help melt icy patches as well as improve traction for workers. To minimize slipping, make sure icy spots that can’t be cleared are clearly marked, and tell workers to slow down and take smaller steps, especially while carrying products and tools. Remove any icicles that have formed or fence off areas to avoid employees from accidentally breaking them loose and causing hazards from falling objects.
Warm-Up Construction Equipment & Tools
Some construction equipment needs to be properly “warmed up” before use. The cold can make electrical wires and cords become brittle, so to avoid damaging your equipment, make sure to heat up your equipment before use.
Take extra precautions on construction equipment that operates on air or gas under pressure. After each usage, drain the fluid from the air compressor tanks to avoid the moisture from freezing and damaging the tank. To defend against the cold, use antifreeze tool oil in your pneumatic tools and air hoses.
Watch the Weather
We can’t stress enough the importance of informing yourself of the weather conditions. You wouldn’t want your workers to get stranded because of a blizzard now, would you? This is even more dangerous when handling construction equipment as the winds could go up to 56km/h.
Hypothermia and frostbites should also be considered. As the temperature continues to plummet, keep a closer eye on the workers. Ensure that they’re wearing sufficient clothing for the temperature and encourage them to take breaks every now and then to warm themselves up from the cold.
Provide a Heated Break Area
It’s been scientifically proven that the body uses more energy when it’s cold. Having a heated indoor area or a tent for workers to warm up from the cold can improve working conditions and lessen risks. Hypothermia and frostbites are no joke, so be sure to encourage them to take frequent breaks to rest and warm up. While you’re at it, remind the workers to limit their caffeine consumption since it increases their heart rate, making them feel warmer than they actually are.
Layer on the Clothing
When working in cold weather, one of the most important things to remember is to stay warm. The challenge is finding a balance between wearing enough layers to stay warm while also being able to have a reasonable range of mobility to accomplish your work.
To prevent moisture from leaking into your gear, layer your clothing with moisture-wicking thermals on the inside and a waterproof outer layer on the outside. It’s critical to change into dry clothes to avoid losing body heat if your clothing gets wet.
Wear knit hats and earmuffs for the head, wool socks for the feet, balaclavas for the face, and gloves and mittens for the hands to limit the amount of skin exposed to freezing temperatures, paying special attention to the extremities.