Construction Finance Safety Minute: Cold Weather Tips
I am afraid that the pleasantly crisp days of fall are long behind us–those orange and yellow leaves have all fallen off the trees, and the winds have gone from ‘pleasantly brisk’ to ‘dang it, I should have moved to Miami when I had the chance’.
As such, those summer safety tips I covered a few months ago (Construction Finance Safety Minute: Managing the Heat) just…aren’t really that pertinent anymore. Unless you actually did move to Miami, in which case keep on keeping on with the shade and water breaks.
Instead, winter comes with its own sets of hazards, from bulky clothing to hypothermia and equipment failures. As somebody who spends all day at a desk in a climate controlled office, I am once again going to defer to our good friends at Construct Connect for their tips on staying safe in cold weather–after all, my best personal tip is to de-ice your windshield before driving to work…an important tip, to be sure, but hardly one that’s specific to construction.
- Provided a heated break area.
I know. Shocking. It’s a good thing the experts spent the time to come up with this idea.
But, there’s a little more to it than the obvious. First of all, depending on what type of heaters you’re using, watch out for carbon monoxide. Spend the extra $10 for a carbon monoxide detector so that you aren’t accidentally killing everybody.
Also, be careful of the coffee. Caffeinated beverages speed up your heart rate and make you feel warmer than you really are. While this certainly makes the day more pleasant, feeling cold is your body’s way of telling you that you need to warm up. Turning that signal off can be a dangerous move.
2. Don’t neglect your PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) just because you’re shivering your butt off.
Hardhats are necessary rain or shine; just wear a knitted layer underneath for extra warmth. Use anti-fog spray on safety glasses. Put an extra pair of socks on under those steel-toed boots, because steel gets cold. Make sure that harnesses are adjusted to accommodate the extra bulk from parkas and longjohns.
3. Warm up equipment and tools.
Electrical wires and hoses can become brittle in cold weather. Make sure to read the instructions on your stuff before trying to fire everything up when it’s -10 outside…the five minutes you’ll spend with your instruction manual now will be far less frustrating than the three days and $6,000 you’ll spend replacing whatever you managed to screw up. (And yes, those are words of experience. Need I remind that you that I am married to a man..a man who does not read instructions. Let his empty bank account and trips to the ER be your guiding light.)
4. Be careful of ice.
I know. Another shocking tip from the experts right there. But yeah, ice is bad, mmkay.
5. Winter weather can be unpredictable. Put an emergency kit in your work truck.
Beyond the standard first aid kid, throw in an ice scraper, sleeping bag, water, and snacks. Take it from someone who has survived many a midwest winter–sometimes Jack Frost doesn’t give you much warning before he decides to turn the region into an ice rink. If worse comes to worse, you want to be prepared for a night spent stranded in your truck.
For more winter weather safety advice, head on over to Construct Connect (Winter Weather Safety Tips). Otherwise, bundle up and stay safe out there.