The seasons are changing and winter is upon us again.
For plenty of people, winter weather means bundling up in blankets, going ice skating, and drinking hot cocoa.
Of course, winter has its own set of challenges as well.
Have you ever run down the street and slipped on a hidden patch of ice?
Scraping ice off of your car windshield and letting it idle for a few minutes isn’t at the top of a lot of people’s lists.
Without a doubt, it’s a bit harder to get around during the winter.
If you work on a construction site, you know that winter isn’t just inconvenient, it can be downright dangerous.
And it’s only getting worse.
Winter weather is actually trending colder year over year.
That poses a huge risk for those that have to work out in the elements.
Death from hypothermia easily tops death from being out in heat, clocking in at a whopping 63% of all exposure deaths.
Working in winter construction poses some real risks, but don’t worry – we’ve got seven tips that are going to keep you and your crew safe in the elements.
What’s The Weather For Today?
Weather forecasts are essential for planning your day.
What could start as a moderately sunny day might be extremely cloudy by the afternoon, causing the temps to drop.
You might also get one good day followed by several days with harsh weather that will wipe out any progress you made.
Understanding what kind of weather you’re up against not just today but for the next several days will not only help you gauge your work but keep you and your workers safe.
Dress For Success
Construction gear is your first line of defense against the biting wind and low temperatures.
You rely on your helmet to protect your head and your boots to get you where you need to go.
You need to go beyond just a heavy jacket and wear clothing specifically for winter construction.
Thermal insulated coveralls are a bit pricey but beyond worth it. They allow you freedom of movement while keeping you warm.
Liners aren’t just for coats. You can purchase liners to go inside of hard hats and gloves, allowing for adjustments to temperature.
Scarves are great not just for keeping your chest warm but they can be easily removed to adjust if the temperature changes throughout the day.
As for your trusty work boots, it’s always a good idea to double up with thermal socks and insulated boots, but you can go one step further.
Steel toe boots are necessary on a construction site but can freeze your feet if you’re not careful. It’s best to wear boots with a composite toe.
Get The Lay Of The Land
Before work starts on a winter construction site, supervisors need to go through and inspect it.
Hazards might have accumulated throughout the night while you were away.
Snow can pile up, ice can form, and in worst case scenarios, there might be damaged electrical lines.
You can’t move forward on a project if your equipment is damaged, too.
Check out the area and make sure it’s safe to get back to work before sending a crew in there.
If You’re Good To Go, Keep It Ice Free
During the coldest weather, winter construction sites can accumulate ice in the blink of an eye.
To keep your workers from slipping in snow and slush, you’ve got a few options that will provide traction and melt the ice.
Throw some salt on the problem areas to quickly melt large patches of slippery ice.
Once you’ve broken down the worst of it, adding kitty litter or sand to the areas improve traction and minimize potential slip and fall accidents.
Get Inside and Out Of The Cold
Winter construction sites must have one non-negotiable thing: a warm break area.
Don’t keep yourself and your crew out in that unforgiving weather; make an area where you can get inside and out of the cold.
A moment to warm up frozen muscles is a must-have to keep your crew productive.
Not to mention you need an area to talk about the last football game without a scarf in the way.
A trailer is a perfect solution when you’re out in the cold.
A trailer like the ones from US Construction Trailers is easy to set up and easy to keep heated while still being big enough to keep the whole crew warm.
Besides regular breaks, if the weather is especially cold, you can schedule shorter shifts.
This makes sure you’re still making progress while keeping the crew safe.
Education Is Key
Knowing what to do in cold weather situations might truly be the difference between life or death.
Regular vehicles are prone to crashing on slick roads or stalling out, leaving people stranded.
This can be even more hazardous when you factor in the different types of construction vehicles.
Make sure everyone on site is aware of what to do if any of those dangerous situations happen.
Another thing to keep an eye out for is any kind of medical symptoms.
Train your crew to recognize the signs of frostbite or hypothermia.
It’s not something you can shake off; if anyone starts exhibiting the symptoms, they need to be treated right away.
No Hot Coffee – Yes, Really
Coffee is usually the staple of any workplace, but no so on a winter construction site.
There are a few reasons for this, and there are easy ways around it, too.
Drinking a hot beverage has been shown to mess up your body’s perception of whether it’s hot or cold.
Signals from the tongue tell your body that something hot is coming in so in response, your body dilates blood vessels to release body heat.
Caffeine also tricks your body into thinking it’s warmer than it really is which can be really dangerous in extreme temperatures.
The best way to keep your crew alert and hydrated is to drink regular water or sports drinks to replenish lost electrolytes.
Going without coffee can be hard (who doesn’t love their daily cup of joe?) but safety always comes first.
Winter Construction Safety
You’ve got a job you need to get done. Construction doesn’t stop just because the temps get low.
But now you’ve got the tools to keep you and your crew safe.
Make US Construction trailers a part of the site and you’ll always have a place to come in out of the cold.
Go a step further and protect site assets with waterproof storage containers, too.
Whatever your construction site needs are, US Construction Trailers has a solution.
Keep safe this winter!