Employers have a responsibility to provide workers with a place of employment that is free from recognized hazards, including those brought on by winter weather. Construction business owners should consider the following safety tips to help protect their workers on the jobsite during the winter months:
Safety Tips for Winter Construction
- Look for any downed wires, trees or debris before letting your workers get started. Don’t forget to look for any icicles that could create a falling object hazard.
- Look for any slippery surfaces caused by ice and snow, remove the snow and then lay down salt, sand or other materials that give your employees more traction when moving about the jobsite. Don’t forget to clear walkways, roofs, scaffolds, ladders and equipment and remind your workers about fall safety in advance.
- Provide employees with a heated break area and monitor them for frostbite and hypothermia. Remind them to avoid caffeine and other stimulants that can make their hearts work faster and trick them into thinking they are warmer than they really are.
- Teach employees about “cold stress” and what to do if they suspect they are suffering from it.
- Provide warm beverages for consumption during breaks to help workers keep their core temperature stable.
- Encourage the use of clothing that will help keep employees warm and safe, including:
- Hard hats with liners to keep the head warmer and safer in the event of a fall.
- Insulated gloves and mittens that allow for needed dexterity while working.
- Non-skid, waterproof boots, with extra socks for warmth.
- Goggles, safety glasses and face masks, which can be treated with anti-fogging spray to minimize vision impairment.
- Actively monitor weather conditions during the winter and have a reliable communication process with workers so you can stop work or evacuate when necessary.
- Utilize engineering controls to minimize exposure to workers, such as shielding work areas from drafts and wind to reduce the potential of wind chill.
These tips are meant to provide a high-level overview and should not be considered a comprehensive list of safety measures. For a full review of winter weather safety tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, click here.