Construction Worker Safety in the Fall and Winter
Although most people complain about all the construction that seems to appear during the summer months, construction (both concrete and outdoor) doesn’t stop just because the weather turns cold. And for workers who endure the cold winter months, safety becomes even more important. Working construction is always a dangerous job, but when normal working conditions are made more difficult by cold weather and decreased daytime hours, those dangers are even more present.
But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t work in the fall and winter, it just means that there are a few extra precautions we can take to overcome the cold and the darkness.
Overcoming the Cold
Working in the cold is uncomfortable, but not impossible. Here are a few tips to keep safe during the colder months of the year:
- Layer—The threat of hypothermia is one of the biggest threats to winter construction safety. As a result, you need to learn the signs of oncoming hypothermia and always work in twos. Also, learn to layer your clothing so you can adjust your body temperature for different jobs and a range of temperatures so you don’t get too cold or too hot.
- Heaters—Most companies and job sites will provide construction heaters for the winter months. There are a number of styles, like radiant heaters or forced air heaters. For example, LB White makes a wide range of heaters for construction sites that will run from wall outlets or from generators. When you use construction heaters, make sure you follow proper safety guidelines by not placing the heater too close to flammable materials or directly on plywood. When possible, elevate the heaters off the floor. And always make sure to crack a window (if working inside) in order to let out excess fumes.
- Heating blankets—Also, if you work with concrete, make sure to use concrete curing blankets (like those made by Powerblanket), which will keep in the heat and moisture needed to help the concrete cure correctly, making it more durable and safer in the long-run.
Overcoming the Dark
Working in the cold, may be uncomfortable, but working the dark can be downright dangerous. Here are a few tips for proper lighting on the job:
- Light towers and Light balloons—if you are working at night, in the early morning, or in the evening, lighting towers are a must. LED lighting towers are great because they provide an excellent amount of light with very little power; however, they can be bulky. For a lighter solution, you can try lighting balloons, which are more lightweight and portable. Either way, use the lighting solution that is best for your job and worksite in order to perform your job correctly and avoid accidents and injury.
- Traffic Arrow Boards—One of the most dangerous parts of road construction is the traffic. In the dark, winter months that danger is magnified tenfold. Setting up reliable traffic arrow boards to clearly indicate where traffic should flow is a must if you are working on the roads.
All in all, construction safety in the winter is all about using the right equipment to overcome the dangers that cold and dark create. If you can use the proper equipment to keep you warm and help you see (and be seen), you’ll be less likely to get hurt or seriously injured.