Three Winter Safety Tips for Construction Workers

Three Winter Safety Tips for Construction Workers

The leaves have turned, the sky has gone gray and the temperature has dropped. Fall is officially transitioning to winter, and as it does, TP Mechanical applies our “safety first, always first” mantra to help construction workers deal with the additional challenges they face on the job during the colder months.

Whether its colder temperatures, inclement weather or increased jobsite hazards, winter presents several threats to worker health and safety. Here are three tips to keep construction workers safe in extreme and unusual work conditions.

Tip #1 – Stay Warm by Wearing Winter Gear and Limiting Outdoor Exposure

The most obvious threat winter poses to worker safety is cold and inclement weather. Being aware of daily forecasts and requiring workers to wear the right gear for the job are paramount to keeping them healthy and safe. Boots, gloves, hats, heavy coats, rain gear and more are all essentials to staying warm and preventing hypothermia. Additionally, providing workers with a warm environment for short and frequent breaks can go a long way in protection from the harsh elements.

Health issues, from as minor as a common cold to as severe as hypothermia or frostbite, are often more likely to pop up during the winter, and proper protection can’t always prevent them. Properly educating workers on what symptoms to look for may help them remove themselves from the elements before it becomes dangerous to their health and seek medical treatment sooner.

Here are signs and symptoms of hypothermia:

  • Cool skin
  • Slower, irregular breathing
  • Slower heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Uncontrollable shivering
  • Severe shaking
  • Rigid muscles
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory lapses

The following are signs and symptoms of frostbite:

  • Paleness of the skin
  • Sensation of coldness or pain
  • Pain disappears after a while with the freezing of the tissues.
  • Tissues become increasingly whiter and harder.

Tip #2 – Inspect All Jobsites Daily

Winter weather often means snow and ice, creating additional fall hazards on a worksite. Snow and ice should be removed from the jobsite prior to allowing workers into it. Putting down salt is key to preventing slips and falls from refreeze.

During the winter, weather changes can often be severe and sudden. Precautions should be taken to ensure plans are in place if bad weather strikes without warning to keep workers safe (e.g., utilizing proper lighting and signage on the jobsite in case visibility is decreased).

Tip #3 – Prepare Necessary Vehicles for the Cold

In addition to completing a full inspection of any vehicles before they enter a jobsite, make sure they are stocked with necessities for dealing with winter weather. Supply vehicles with winter emergency kits including items like:

  • Flashlights
  • Extra Batteries
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Blankets
  • Ice Scrapers
  • Shovels
  • Tow Chains
  • Emergency Flares

These items aren’t simply useful commodities – they can be life-saving if conditions on a jobsite degrade rapidly without warning or if another emergency occurs. Make sure every worker knows where to find the kit in every vehicle on the jobsite.

”Safety first, always first” rings true year-round, but winter weather presents different challenges. Taking proper precautions on the jobsite and providing workers with the necessary gear and knowledge to stay warm and safe are critical this time of year.

For more information

Learn more about how safety is a way of life at TP Mechanical and then Contact Us to see how we can provide comprehensive mechanical services for your next project.

Take Our Winter Fire Safety Quiz

Safety takes on a higher level of importance as the winter months approach. As businesses, we need to pay special attention to the work environment to be sure our employees are ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.

Take this brief survey to be sure you are ready to protect your employees and your office:

When is the last time you had your fire extinguishers checked?

In the US, fire extinguishers in all non-residential buildings should be checked annually – and some municipalities require a more frequent check. Look at the tag on the extinguisher to see the type of service that was performed in the past and pay attention to the date. If it is more than 12 months ago, you need to have it checked and serviced.

Side view of a male mountain climber using laptop on mountain peHow much clearance do you have between the ceiling and your file cabinets?

When is the last time you looked at the ceilings in your office? It might seem like a silly question but piling too many boxes and supplies on your file cabinets can block fire sprinklers from working properly. Well-meaning employees might try to use all the available vertical space in an office so that the floor is clear of obstacles. This might have adverse consequences. Look upward and rearrange or get rid of unnecessary items.

Are your employees using space heaters?

As an employer, you need to balance the comfort of your employees with your heating bills. And the optimum temperature varies for each individual. Some may be too cold in winter and others too hot. One solution is that employees may use space heaters to keep their space comfortable. Have you checked your employees work areas lately to see where they have placed these heaters? You may find that they are under desks and surrounded by purses and shoes and umbrellas and near stacks of file folders. This is a clear fire hazard. Although modern space heaters don’t start fires as easily as those in the past, you still need to be smart. Give the space heater some air and make sure it is not too close to something that can start on fire. This is the best way to eliminate any risk. Also be sure your employees are turning the devices off each day or have an automatic shut off.

Where are the furnace vents and intake valves in your office and home?

You probably haven’t given it much thought. But keeping vents, intake valves and chimneys free of snow and ice in the winter is important to keep the heat on and prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. It’s a good idea to have a functioning carbon monoxide monitor in your home or office, especially this time of year.