Construction Safety Tips: A Guide to Winter Weather
It’s never too soon to begin outfitting your jobsites for the winter months. Just as quickly as autumn crept upon us, so too will icy conditions.
First and foremost, educate your crews on the signs of hypothermia and frostbite. Symptoms can include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Your body loses heat faster than it can be produced when exposed to cold temperatures.
Be aware of the warning signs for yourself and look out for colleagues. It’s all about accountability.
Our team of safety experts has compiled a guide for contractors to best equip their jobsites this winter.
- Put on at least three layers of clothing, gloves and hats for protection from the elements
- Wear appropriate shoes for insulation, traction and water-resistance
- Shorter, slower steps help you react more quickly to changes in traction
- Allow ample time to warm up equipment and tools
- Always have an emergency kit on-site
- Emergency weather kits should include a brush, ice scraper, shovel, flares, non-perishable protein-packed snacks, water and tow straps
Food and Drink
- Stay hydrated during cold temperatures – oftentimes you don’t realize the amount of water lost and you could feel less thirsty
- Caloric loss will be higher at cold temperatures so eating properly throughout the day and evening can help you stay healthy and ready for the day
- Clear ice and snow from all working areas to prevent slips – not just at the ground level, be sure to clear walkways, roofs, ladders and any other working areas
- Stay in tune with the National Weather Service for the most accurate forecast
- Designate a heated break area
- Look out for downed power lines
- Ensure tire tread, battery voltage and windshield wipers are in good condition
- Have the following readily available – jumper cables, flashlight, abrasive material such as sand or cat litter, snow brush and snow shovel
- Stay up to date on vehicle maintenance
- Plan your route and give yourself extra time depending on road conditions
- Slow down and increase your following distance
Caution and preparation are the best defense. More information on winter weather hazards and planning can be found on OSHA’s website.