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Winterize Your Team and Worksite for Efficiency and Safety

workers working in snow

Construction workers might be forced by winter weather to wear warmer clothing, but that does not mean the work can slow down. Buildings still need to be completed, no matter what the outside temperature might be. To keep your employees safe, however, you will want to prepare your construction site and your crew for the upcoming cold and ice. This can help prevent accidents and ensure that the site avoids any citations for safety violations and everyone will be able to work work as productively as possible for the conditions.

Be prepared

Successful winter planning requires being equipped and prepared for whatever the season might bring. You should have designated members of the crew be in charge of checking regularly for updates on the weather conditions. Without this basic step, it is too easy for there to be miscommunication or for people to neglect checking the forecast and having the team be caught unaware. If the temperatures are expected to drop into the extreme cold, it is important to take proper safety precautions, which might include postponing the day’s work. If storms are anticipated during the day, verify that you have a way to communicate with your entire team.

Construction Equipment in SnowYou should also plan your long term and short term schedules around the weather. Try to get as much outdoor work completed in the warmer months, including regularly scheduled maintenance. Once in winter, if your team does not have to be exposed to the elements the entire day, try to schedule any outdoor tasks for the warmest part of the day.

It is also important to be prepared with materials. The site should have ample floor mats and ‘slippery surface’ signs so that areas that are particularly hazardous can be marked and avoided.

Before the first snowflake falls, you should also have a concrete plan about what the role of each member of the team will be should there be a storm. This will include the schedule of who will be responsible for snow removal, de-icing, and warming up machines so they can be safely used.

Educate employees

Employees should understand how to act safely no matter what the temperature might be. This means explaining how areas such as scaffolds tend to ice over before road surfaces and might not be safe to be used.  OSHA says that scaffolds should never be used when there is ice, snow, high winds, or other slippery materials.

Construction workers being educated on safetyIssues such as hydration should also be discussed. Although most people recognize the importance of drinking ample water when the weather is hot, it is also important when it becomes cold. You should ensure that there is water made available to your workers throughout the day and encourage them to regularly have something to drink. Offering employees warm liquids (not including alcohol) during their break times can be an excellent way to help them warm up and remain hydrated.

Employees should also be educated about how to recognize the symptoms of cold related injuries. They should be encouraged to monitor themselves and their coworkers to ensure that they remain safe throughout their shifts. They should also know what to do if a delivery, such as specialty drywall, arrives and where to store it to ensure it will not be damaged by the elements.

Make sure everyone has the right equipment

To keep your employees morale up and ensure that they can work properly in the cold weather, you may need to provide them with the proper winter materials. OSHA recommends that in cold weather workers wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothing, which will provide better insulation and be removable should the person become warm. The top layer should protect against wind and rain for added comfort. Employers should also have knit masks, warm hats, water resistant gloves, and slip proof, insulated boots depending upon what is necessary in your respective conditions.

When winter arrives, it can make work significantly more difficult and dangerous, but that does not mean the deadlines stop. Understanding how to properly winterize your team and your worksite can help ensure that you keep everyone safe and productive so that you can continue moving forward.


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Photo credit: julipan / Foter / CC BY-SA

Sources:

http://www.safetymanagementgroup.com/articles/Three-Winter-Worksite-Safety-Dangers.aspx

https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/beprepared.html

https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3252/3252.html

http://www.safetyservicescompany.com/topic/uncategorized/winter-safety-7-tips-for-winter-slip-and-fall-prevention/

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.