Winter is fast approaching, and thought the temperature is dropping, construction work is not slowing down. The cold weather brings a new set of challenges and risks to working on the jobsite, including potentially unsafe conditions as a result of accumulated snow or ice. With the winter season officially beginning in less than a month, workers should take the time now to refresh their knowledge about the top five extra safety precautions necessary to stay safe.
- Actively Monitor Weather Conditions
Keep track of the weather forecast every morning and throughout the day to determine your anticipated working conditions, work schedule, transportation method, and clothing choices. Be mindful that temperatures can vary on an hourly basis during this time of year, and it’s imperative that you and your work station are protected from the potential effects of freezing and thawing. On top of being aware of weather conditions, it’s important to maintain open communication with your employer about what jobsite changes to expect as a result of an incoming storm or dangerously low temperatures.
- Dress Appropriately for the Cold
If you’re working in a cold environment, you could be at risk of experiencing cold stress, which is defined by OSHA as when the skin temperature is driven down and results in a decrease in internal body temperature. This cause serious health problems. The best way to avoid cold stress is by dressing appropriately. Make sure you’re wearing multiple layers to retain body heat, as well as insulated gloves, and waterproof boots. It is key is to protect your extremities, and also bring a change of clothes in case you get wet to ensure you stay dry throughout the day. Also consider putting hand warmers in your pockets.
- Wear Proper PPE
Personal protective equipment should always be worn no matter the season, but in the winter it’s important you’re taking extra precaution when winter weather conditions are present. Make sure you’re wearing a hard hat at all times in case of falling objects such as icicles and hail and insert a liner in the hat for additional warmth. You should also wear waterproof boots with non-slip soles to prevent slipping on icy surfaces and falling.
- Pay Attention to Snow and Ice on Jobsites
Prior to beginning work, inspect the jobsite to ensure work surfaces are free of hazards. If snow is present, take the time to notify snow removal and salt screws, and remove large patches. No matter the urgency, never use scaffolding in snowy or icy conditions.
- Take Breaks in Heated Areas
Be sure to take frequent breaks, if possible, to limit exposure to the elements, and take them in a heated trailer, tent, or an indoor area. During your breaks, drink warm liquids and change out of any wet clothing to preserve body heat.