Don’t Leave Safety Out in the Cold This Winter

With winter approaching fast, you should begin reviewing safety measures and making preparations to get your workplace ready for the elements! Begin to review safety tips with your employees and make sure they understand the threat winter weather brings. Employers and workers must be aware and cautious of dropping temperatures, wet/frozen surfaces, and higher winds during the winter season. Therefore, let’s review some safety measures together!

Working construction during the winter can be brutal and unforgiving. However, by following these steps, both employers and workers can ensure a better work environment, even during the harshest of seasons.

  1. Limit Exposure
  • The extreme cold during Winter can be quite taxing on the human body. While exposure to the elements during Winter is not preventable, limiting a worker’s exposure is. Encourage shorter work periods outside and longer breaks in a heated area.
  1. Warm Break Area
  • As stated above, a warm place for workers to take a break is essential during Winter. A heated, covered area from the harsh Winter elements can ensure workers remain vigilant and healthy when returning to work outside. During this time, both workers and managers should inspect those coming in from outside for signs of fatigue, hypothermia, and frostbite. Furthermore, drinking caffeinated drinks should be discouraged, as they cause the heart rate to increase, leading workers to believe they are warmer than they are.
  1. Wear Proper Clothing
  • Wearing proper winter clothing when working outside during the Winter should be required by employers and should not be fought by workers. Working outside during the winter can be extremely taxing on the body. Therefore workers must take the initiative by choosing clothing that provides:
    • Insulation from high winds and cold temperatures
    • Loose clothing that will allow for proper blood flow (while maintaining proper insulation)
    • Masks that cover the face, mouth, and neck
    • Warm hat that will prevent heat loss
    • Insulated and waterproof gloves and boots.
  1. Monitoring Weather Conditions
  • Keeping track of the weather can help prevent injuries jobsite. Employers and managers should continually monitor weather conditions for drastic changes, such as blizzards and high winds and call workers in when things get too rough outside.
  1. Monitor Surfaces and Equipment for Ice
  • Injuries caused by slips and falls increase during Winter, and ice formations on walking surfaces is a major cause. Ensuring pathways are salted or sanded to ensure any ice melts away. Along with surfaces, it is also important to monitor equipment left out overnight is inspected for any ice formations. Properly warming equipment is important for the longevity of said equipment as well as important for the safety of those using it.

Quite possibly, one of the most important things to remember about safety is that it is a team effort. Employers, managers, and workers must look out for one another to ensure that all safety regulations are followed correctly. Employers must make sure that all OSHA required safety requirements are always in place and functional. Managers must make sure these requirements are enforced, as well as monitor the health of their workers. Workers must look after one another and encourage each other to follow these safety requirements. However, if workers believe safety requirements are not being met, they have a right to and should complain. Working outside in Winter is extremely dangerous and difficult. Therefore, those who do so must be given to proper equipment and care that is needed.