Construction sites face more extreme hazards during the winter months. Cold temperatures increase the risk of injury and damage to equipment, and windy conditions can make any work day unpredictable. Knowing how to winterize your construction site and prepare your team can help you stay on schedule…safely.
Here are six helpful tips for winterizing your construction site.
- Stay up to date with the current forecast. When working outdoors in harsh weather, knowing what to expect can be a big help. Carefully monitor the weather forecast for the coming workdays and track any changes – sometimes winter weather patterns can change quickly. Always consider the local climate when planning for a project. If inclement weather is expected, be sure to communicate with the project team and add extra time for potential delays, if necessary.
- Stabilize the ground. Placing sediment, temporary or permanent vegetation, or netted mulch on any slopes or unstable surfaces is an important step in preparing for expected ice and snow. During snowfall or icy conditions, keep up with shoveling, plowing and salting to create the best conditions. Keep the ground free of debris to remove as many slip and fall hazards as possible.
- Proactively maintain your equipment. Bad weather can take another toll on the tools you use daily, so proper care can go a long way in preventing malfunctions and extending their life. Put away smaller tools when you’re done to protect them and cover larger equipment when practical. Once the cold sets in, give larger machines plenty of time to warm up before use and thaw frozen pipes with a heat gun, heat lamp, or space heater. Never use fire though, as this is usually far more dangerous than useful.
- Train staff for the cold. Slips, frostbite or even frostbite are some of the potential risks from prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures. Teach employees how to safely navigate and work on construction sites in these conditions. Go over the personal protective equipment they should wear, including layers of clothing, gloves and hearing protection, before the winter months begin. Provide and encourage drinking hot water to help the team stay warm and hydrated.
- Follow heating equipment procedures. Heaters can provide extra comfort and safety for your team in colder temperatures, but they can be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken. Always plug heaters into the correct outlet when in use and place them at a safe, clear distance from machinery and other sensitive or susceptible objects. Warn workers where heaters are located and advise them to always work with caution.
- Schedule work with appropriate boundaries. Even when you monitor the weather closely, conditions can be worse than expected. Find out when it’s no longer safe for your team to work and call it a day. Setting specific times to work during the day when the weather is at its best is also a good way to maintain safety while maximizing productivity.
Now that you know how to winterize your construction site, make sure your contractor’s insurance gives you the best coverage year-round. Talk to one of our local, independent agents about coverage.