As OSHA attorneys who represent construction companies all over the country, we cannot stress enough the importance of safety during every single month of the year; however, you need to be extra cautious during the wintertime. In this three-part article, the attorneys of Cotney Construction Law are discussing safety tips for working in cold climates. In the last section, we discussed some basic tips including what to eat and wear in the freezing cold. In this section, we will discuss implementing the right strategy to prepare you for projects in cold conditions.
3. Trust Technology
If you are a contractor managing an outdoor project in the cold, you should be frequently accessing weather forecast apps on your smartphone. These applications provide weather updates in real time and give you a complete understanding of the local climate. It’s also important to factor in wind speeds when you review these applications, as wind chill is a serious threat during the winter months.
4. Safety Strategy
There should always be a safety strategy in place before work commences. When conditions are less than optimal, here are some areas that require planning:
- Breaks: Keeping workers out of the freezing cold is crucial. Contractors should have break times planned in advance for all of their workers to ensure that breaks aren’t overlooked. As body warmth and energy are crucial when working in the bitter cold, this will reduce the chances of experiencing a cold-induced injury or illness. During conditions where the wind chill is extreme, instruct all workers to go inside.
- Storage: Vehicles located on the jobsite should store important cold weather safety gear. Some items that should be located in vehicles include shovels, blankets, gloves, extra pairs of warm clothing, matches, among other important items.
- Dangerous Conditions: It’s important that contractors understand the risks present at the jobsite. Here are some examples of dangerous conditions:
- Clear the Work Area: It’s important to not let snow and ice pile up in your workspace or in areas overhead.
- Clear Walkways: Any areas that see frequent foot traffic like walkways and entrances need to be cleared. Contractors should always keep sand and other anti-slip materials nearby.
- Marking Hazards: Any icy areas that pose a potential risk should be well-lit and flagged to ensure safety.
- Check Equipment: Tools and equipment need to be monitored frequently to ensure that they aren’t slick or icy. This is especially important for ladders, scaffolds, and any equipment used at great heights.
For more information on workplace safety during the cold winter months, please read part three.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.