Winter doesn’t officially start until the solstice occurs on December 21. But as we all know, temperatures in the Northeast drop long before then, and late fall storms are not out of the question. As the cold weather approaches, there are a number of specific safety measures you should brush up on to ensure you’re prepared for when the mercury drops.
Here are some extra precautions to keep in mind to stay safe during the winter season:
Monitor weather conditions
This is one to keep in mind all year long, but it’s particularly important when the chance of storms and sub-zero temperatures is higher. Before you leave for work in the morning – or better yet, the night before – be sure to check the weather forecast to see how your commute might be impacted and to know what kind of clothing you might need to stay warm and dry. Check back throughout the day if you’re able because temperatures and conditions can change on an hourly basis, especially during this time of year, and being aware of these changes ahead of time will help you be better prepared. Also, if the weather is extremely severe, touch base with your supervisor ahead of time to find out whether the usual schedule for the day is still on.
Another year-round tip to remember. Workers should always wear personal protective equipment regardless of the season, but this takes on an extra level of importance when the cold weather and inclement conditions set in. Be sure to wear a hard hat at all times in case of falling icicles and hail – be aware of your surroundings at all times – and consider wearing waterproof boots with sturdy soles that have good traction to prevent slipping.
Keeping your head and feet warm and dry will go a long way to keeping you comfortable during the workday.
When working outside for lengthy period of times, you are at risk of hypothermia and cold stress – both of which can cause serious, long-term health issues. Make sure you are wearing gloves and multiple layers to retain body heat. Consider putting handwarmers in your pockets and your socks, and always remember to take breaks next to a heater or indoors, if possible, to avoid any adverse health issues or discomfort.
Be cautious of snow and ice buildup
Although appropriate attire, such as gloves, boots, and hard hats, can decrease your chances of being injured by falling snow and ice, you should be actively monitoring your workspace for potentially unsafe situations. Never use scaffolding in snowy or icy conditions, and scatter salt or ice melt liberally in areas where buildup occurs.
Of course, if you are uncomfortable working in more severe weather conditions or you are aware of any safety hazards due to weather, you should express your concerns to the site manager or foreman. Safety is always a top priority, and communication is necessary to avoid any incidents on the jobsite – whether the skies are clear, and the temperature is warm, or snow is on the ground and heavy coats are called for.