Coping with the Cold in Construction
The winter of 2015 left quite an impression. Record snowfall created headaches for many business owners, especially construction businesses. Issues included snow and ice removal onsite, cold temperatures, workers delayed due to road conditions, car accidents, injuries while on the job, and more.
Weather, be it hot, cold, or in between, will always impact construction. Preparation for winter months can help, such as allocating extra time or focusing on indoor projects. However, for those jobs that must be completed in the dead of winter, it’s prudent to have strategies in place to manage the aftermath of a Nor’easter or cope with record cold.
For construction business owners, cold trumps snow in terms of safety issues because of the detrimental effects the cold can have on workers. To maintain the engine running on projects, keep the following suggestions in mind.
✔ Limit exposure in extreme cold. In Northern New England, temperatures that dip well below freezing are not uncommon, where the risk of frostbite exists.
✔ Consider rotating jobs and tasks to keep workers exposed to the elements for limited amounts of time.
✔ Provide warm break areas and hot beverages. Use portable heaters where possible.
✔ Educate workers to recognize the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Train workers on the proper use of protective clothing and equipment and the precautions to take during cold weather.
✔ Post reminders in work areas and have people work in pairs so that one could recognize symptoms in the other.
As we saw last winter, high amounts of snow can bring progress to a halt. Removing that snow and ice to make a worksite safe has its own inherent safety risks. Slips and falls can be addressed by a variety of different products, but removal of ice and snow from areas off the ground can be tricky. Regularly checking load limits on floors, roofs, and other surfaces before having anyone clear the snow can help prevent worker injury. Using snow rakes to minimize time spent off the ground and requiring fall protection equipment can go a long way toward protecting your workers.
We would like to hear from you. What are your biggest challenges when it comes to working in the winter? What did you learn from the winter of 2015 that you are applying this year?