Winter for the construction industry, that means keeping employees as warm and safe as possible during cold-weather construction operations. Most workers in the building trade don’t have the luxury of shutting down for the winter season.
Safety mandates as well as considerations and procedures can mean the difference between a safe winter job site and a hazardous one.
When it comes to safe cold-weather operations, managers need to keep these key issues in mind.
Protection from falls must be a priority. That doesn’t change whether you’re working several stories above the ground on scaffolding or marching across ice at ground level. We suggest workers wear footwear with adequate traction when working at winter construction sites to reduce the chance of slipping. Short steps and a slower walking gait can go a long way in maintaining one’s balance.
Workers who aren’t accustomed to freezing temperatures are particularly susceptible to health emergencies brought on by cold stress, but everyone can suffer the effects of extreme cold. Cold weather can cause hypothermia, trench foot, frostbite and chilblains — a condition that can result in itching, inflamed ulcers when repeated and prolonged exposure to cold damages blood vessels.
Work shorter periods and take breaks to warm yourself with hot drinks. Dressing in warm loose layers for adequate blood flow and insulation from the cold can help a great deal. Clothing items like warm socks, gloves, insulated boots and hats can keep the cold from affecting a worker’s extremities.
Using spaces like empty parking lots to practice negotiating icy surfaces and keeping vehicles properly maintained and stocked with emergency items like flashlights, flares, jumper cables, blankets, non-perishable food and water will result in a much safer winter.
Winter construction cold-weather operations aren’t just about safety. While most construction tasks can be carried out with enough strategically placed warming equipment, some operations, such as concrete and masonry-related work, painting and drywall finishing can take much longer and even fail if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
If concrete is to reach necessary strength levels, it can’t be allowed to freeze for the first 24 hours after being poured or placed. If the weather isn’t too severe, sheeting the concrete can ensure the required temperature and moisture necessary for curing. If not, then supplemental heating systems or enclosures must be brought in to maintain the integrity of the concrete.
Mortar mix must be kept from freezing and at warm-enough temperatures during the initial phases of installation to perform properly.
When faced with low-enough temperatures, the life of the paint could be reduced and leave it susceptible to issues like mildew growth. The rule of thumb with any cold-weather material installation is that contractors should follow manufacturers’ guidelines to ensure that the finished product functions as expected.
If you’re in any doubt at all please get in touch with your local branch for advice over the coming winter months.
Valley Road Industrial Estate
AL3 6NX Branch: 01727 834242
Head Office: 01727 844558
Call: 020 7485 8511
80-86 Grovebury Road
Call: 01525 218000
1050 Mollison Avenue
Call: 020 8804 2861
1050 Mollison Avenue
Call: 020 8804 1161
53-55 Prince of Wales Road
Call: 020 7428 3311