Are you and your team prepared for working safely in wintery conditions? The best way to promote safety on the jobsite is through education. When workers are trained to identify cold-weather hazards they will have the tools they need to avoid common challenges that come with working in the cold. Share these three tips with your team so the cold doesn’t keep you from making progress.
1) Check, check and recheck.
Winter weather often brings treacherous scenarios. Be on the lookout for things like newly formed snow drifts, sheets of ice or fallen trees when coming onto the jobsite every day. So much can change from one shift to the next. Before beginning any work, check that all of your equipment is in good working condition. Sudden drops in temperature or persistently low temperatures can damage equipment. In addition to checking for damage from the elements, always make sure that your vehicles have the accessories they need to handle cold temperatures and the conditions that come with it.
2) Protect everyone from the elements.
Outfit everyone on your team with proper gear that will keep them warm throughout their entire shift. Shield workers from common conditions including frostbite and hypothermia with warm weather clothing like mufflers, gloves and footwear. Personal protective equipment (PPE) like hard hats, work gloves and safety shoes are all the more important in the winter months. Though critical to jobsite safety any time of year, these items protect workers from hazards that arise with colder temperatures, including an increased risk of falling and slipping.
Not only should you properly outfit every individual, Ohio construction firms should prioritize putting up a safe space for workers to warm up. Set up a covered, heated area away from the construction site for workers to warm themselves from time to time. A little break from the elements can make all the difference.
3) Take care of the team’s wellbeing.
Be on the lookout for symptoms associated with typical diseases so that you can spring into action when needed. Every worker should be well familiar with the signs associated with common syndromes.
As we mentioned above, hypothermia and frostbite are two of the most common conditions that come with extended exposure to cold temperatures. When it comes to hypothermia, prevent further heat loss by moving your teammate to a warmer place, get them out of any wet clothes, and cover his or her entire body with warm blankets and a plastic sheet of some sort, with the exception of the face. Then, call 911. If emergency services aren’t close by, give your teammate something warm and sweetened to drink and apply heat packs on places like the sides of the chest and neck.
As for frostbite, you’ll follow the same recommendations we shared for hypothermia. When helping your teammate, avoid rubbing, applying water, or rewarming the frostbitten area and breaking blisters. If your teammate is experiencing frostbite on his or her feet, as with trench foot, don’t let them walk on the affected foot. Once your teammate’s initial symptoms have been addressed, seek out medical attention to prevent further issues.
We hope all Ohio construction crews stay warm throughout another sure-to-be-cold Ohio winter. If you have any of your own top tips for improving safety on the winter worksite, share with us on Instagram @ibuildamerica_ohio.