Winter is usually considered the off-season for construction, but a savvy crew can still complete plenty of work when the temperature drops. Working in cold weather presents its own challenges. What are the most common construction safety issues, and what can you do to prevent or mitigate them?
Dealing With Snow and Ice
One of the most obvious hazards of construction work in winter is the accumulation of snow and ice. In addition to being cold, this buildup can create traction issues and slip-and-fall accidents for both team members and equipment. Before each day, take the time to inspect the job site. Be on the lookout for snow or ice buildup. Footpaths and areas that get a lot of traffic — pedestrian or otherwise — should be covered with salt or kitty litter to provide traction and melt the ice.
Excessive ice buildup should be chipped away or otherwise removed to prevent it from causing bigger issues in the future.
Protecting Construction Equipment From Cold Weather
Human crew members aren’t the only ones at risk in cold temperatures. You’ll also need to take steps to protect your construction equipment, especially if you don’t normally operate during the winter months.
Start by carrying out some winter-centric maintenance — double-checking things like tire inflation and fluid levels. Ensure your antifreeze is up to the task, especially if you’ve been topping off the radiator with water during the summer. If you’re not sure, or you don’t have a hydrometer on hand to test, flushing and refilling the cooling system is your best option.
Pouring Concrete in Cold Temperatures
Cool and dry weather isn’t necessarily a bad thing for curing concrete, but once you drop below a certain temperature, it can prevent it from hardening to its full strength. If you’re pouring concrete in the depths of winter, look into tools for keeping your pour warm and dry while you wait for it to cure. Concrete blankets can be incredibly affordable and can let you keep working through the season.
Keeping Your Construction Crew Safe
Humans can adapt to most environments, but we need tools to protect us from the elements. Frostbite and exposure to the elements are major concerns for teams working in cold weather. Ensure that everyone is property attired before they come onto the job site in the morning. Provide them with heated tents or offices where they can get out of the elements for breaks or lunches, and encourage your team to take frequent breaks throughout the day.
Staying Warm in Winter
Wintertime doesn't have to cause projects to grind to a halt. You just need to make sure everyone is ready to work outdoors when the temperature starts to drop. Maintenance, preparation and a few extra tools can make all the difference, especially if you live or work in an area that’s prone to extreme cold during the winter. Construction can continue and deadlines can be met despite the challenges of the season.
Author Bio: Rose Morrison is a freelance writer who covers construction and building design topics. She is also the managing editor for Renovated.
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