Winter is coming and with it brings unique challenges. Safety is always our top priority and during winter months, we take specific precautions to keep our employees safe.
Rain can cause safety hazards such as slippery surfaces and poor visibility. When slippery surfaces are present, it is important for employees to move more slowly to reduce the chance of any slips or falls. If any power tools need to be used, they need to be rated for use in outdoor/wet conditions. All employees must also be wearing hi-vis clothing that is ANSI approved. Working in wet/winter conditions can also cause Cold Stress which is a major safety concern in cold climates.
What is Cold Stress?
Temperature, wind speed and body precipitation are main contributors to cold stress. Other contributors include current health condition, poor physical conditioning, and improper attire. Cold stress occurs when the skin temperature is driven down by said factors which as a result, reduces the internal body temperature. It can happen in temperatures as high as 50° F. After prolonged exposure, the body will be unable to keep itself warm and cold related illnesses and injuries may occur. An example of these include trench foot, frostbite and hypothermia.
How Cold Stress Can Be Prevented
Anybody exposed to cold temperatures for a prolonged period of time without taking proper precautions and preparation is at risk of experiencing cold stress. One of the greatest ways of preventing cold stress is recognizing workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress. Employees should also know the symptoms, how to treat it, and how to prepare for cold, wet, and windy conditions. All superintendents and project managers should also schedule breaks in warm areas, schedule work according to the weather, have employees work in groups or pairs, and provide warm beverages and heaters.
More Considerations for Winter Construction
Snow, ice and low temperatures require increased attention to job site safety. Another important safety topic during winter weather is preventing any slip and fall hazards. Ice can form very quickly in subzero temperatures and should be taken care of immediately. Careful planning is also important for safety and the overall project schedule. While the weather is unpredictable, it’s important to recognize the decrease in productivity that goes hand in hand during winter weather.
Cold Weather Safety Information
Safety should always be everybody’s number one priority. If you’d like more information about keeping employees safe during the upcoming cold winter months, we encourage you to visit OSHA’s website or giving your local OSHA office a call.