On December 15, the New York City area was placed under a winter storm advisory, which included heavy snowfall and potential wind gusts of up to 50 mph. As a result, the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) advised all builders, contractors, crane operators, and property owners to secure their respective construction sites, buildings, and equipment. When the storm hit, the five boroughs received approximately 10.5 inches of snow. While many businesses were forced to close the day after the storm, many construction sites were back up and running.
With the winter season just beginning, we will likely experience more severe weather over the next few months. That means we need to be prepared to reopen construction sites in a safe and efficient manner following significant accumulation of snow and/or ice. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Inspect Your Site
It is important to inspect your site after a winter storm to check for any damaged equipment, downed power lines or trees, icy walking surfaces, and falling object hazards. Make a checklist of items that need to be examined prior to commencing work on the site to avoid any injuries or potentially fatal situations.
Prevent Slips on Snow and Ice
When performing a site inspection, you may find that many of the walking surfaces are covered with either snow or ice, presenting a fall hazard. To avoid injury, make sure you’re wearing proper footwear – a pair of insulated, water resistant boots with rubber treads. Also, practice taking short steps at a slower pace when walking on snow or ice-covered surfaces.
Ensure Safety During Snow Removal
It’s likely you and your team will need to remove snow and ice from the jobsite. When taking part in snow removal, it is important to remember that it can be an extremely strenuous activity that can lead to health concerns. It has been reported that nearly 11,500 people seek shoveling-related hospital treatment each year for injuries or cardiac issues. OSHA recommends that workers take frequent breaks in warm areas when shoveling, scoop small amounts of snow at a time, and take the time to warm up prior to, or while, taking part in this activity.
Avoid Working Near Damaged Power Lines
Severe winter weather conditions can cause damage to electrical equipment when snow and ice build up on power lines, causing wires to break and fall. In addition, high winds can cause trees or loose equipment to blow over, taking wires with them. If this occurs on your jobsite, make sure to stay clear of any damaged power lines. Report any damages to the appropriate person and ensure only properly-trained electrical utility workers are handling repairs.