We have been seeing a lot of rain – some of it very heavy – so far this summer. Although modern weather forecasts are more accurate than ever, they are not always 100 percent reliable. You might find yourself caught in sudden, unexpected and aggressive storms while working in construction. These conditions can be dangerous and require particular attention. OSHA maintains that employers are responsible for keeping tabs on conditions and overseeing site safety. But it is also helpful to take some personal responsibility for your own safety by remaining cognizant of the correct protocols to follow when caught in inclement weather.
Here are a few suggestions for how to manage when weather conditions become difficult:
Even though the daily forecast might not be entirely accurate, it’s still worth checking before you head out the door to give yourself the best chance of arriving on a job site wearing the proper gear. Consider investing in stable boots that can help you keep your footing in slippery conditions, such as ice, rain, and also assist in gaining traction when winds are high. Waterproof rain jackets or coats can help prevent a thorough soaking. Goggles and hard hats prevent injury by debris or branches that might be dislodged due to high winds. Vests with fluorescent detailing make it easier for coworkers to see you in low light, fog or if other visibility challenges arise.
If you are aware of potential severe weather before heading to the jobsite, always connect with the site manager or foreman beforehand. If there’s a chance of unsafe conditions, a workday might be curtailed or called off altogether. If you are still expected to work, be sure to maintain contact with your supervisor so they – and you – are aware of any possible risks that might arise.
Before operating machinery, stepping onto elevated surfaces, or approaching a task with elevated levels of risk, you should always make sure the equipment is in good working condition. This is the case for any workday but goes double for days when the weather is bad. In these instances, pay extra attention to the tools, equipment, and other workers around you. Efficiency is important, but your safety is even more so. Injured workers can’t complete a job. The weather can change quickly – especially when strong summer storms blow in. Be aware of sudden shifts in temperature, elevated winds, and rain or hail, and take all necessary precautions.