Construction projects don’t stop regardless of any season, and since the construction industry is prone to risks, it becomes important to ensure safety of the workers. The winter season introduces additional risks like freezing temperatures, slippery surfaces, wind gusts and blurry vision. Also, health experts believe that virus transmission, including COVID-19, is much easier during winter. Thus, it is extremely important to revisit some of the recommended safety tips for ensuring the construction works goes smoothly and the workers are kept safe at all times.
Let’s take a look at how safety can be improved in construction projects in the winter season.
Site Inspection and Fall Prevention
During winter, construction sites are prone to downed power lines, fallen trees, and snow accumulation. It is important to inspect the construction site for removing all the snow from working spaces so construction activities can be carried out without any hurdles.
To cut down the risk of falling during winter, it is recommended that everyone on the project site are using adequate footwear. Typically, soles that are made of rubber and neoprene help with a much stable footing and resistance. Additionally, salt or sand can be used to improve traction on icy patches.
When walking on snow or ice patches is unavoidable, it is advised to take small steps and carry the body weight with the front foot. It might seem funny, but the US CDC actually recommends the penguin walk to avoid from falling. In other words, spreading out your feet can greatly improve your balance while walking.
It is worth noting that about 1 million people get hurt every year while walking on icy surfaces. The recommendations mentioned above can reduce the normal pace of walking, but it prevents you from injuries.
Winters are prone to sudden gust of wind and this can be very dangerous while conduction constriction activities like lifting activities and working at heights. During such times, the windchill effect becomes a considerable risk. Also, high winds with sudden drops in temperatures can lead to frostbite and hypothermia.
A weather monitoring system is a must in construction sites so project managers can take quick and effective decisions based on the current weather conditions on the site. Keep in mind that weather forecasts are less accurate and don’t predict the exact moment when a sudden gust will occur.
Workers should be encouraged to wear appropriate clothing to keep them warm and comfortable.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Apart from slippery surfaces, workers are exposed to many dangerous situations like falling of icicles, touching very cold metal surfaces or equipment, scaffolding, etc. With the use of PPE gears, workers can work without needing to worry much about such situations.
Hard hats, gloves, and appropriate footwear should be worn at all times. Hard hats protect workers from falling objects like icicles. Gloves can protect workers from the risk of instant frostbite when touching and handling extremely cold equipment.
Some other PPE gears include safety glasses and facemasks. When sprayed with an anti-fog spray, they can prevent blurry vision.
Warm Up your Tools and Equipment
Under cold temperatures, tools and equipment tend to become brittle, so it is important to follow the appropriate instruction for warming them up to avoid any equipment damage. Equipment that use fluids like hydraulic or engine oil should also be inspected to replace if needed.
Equipment like air compressors and pneumatic tools require additional attention especially during winter. Appropriate measures need to be taken to avoid freezing of accumulated moisture in air compressors, and protect hoses from the cold in pneumatic tools.