7 Ways to Keep Winter Construction Sites Safe
Worker deaths, injuries, and illness have all declined in recent years, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. But vigilance is required to keep job sites safe, particularly during the colder months.
As a member of OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Plan, Miller-Valentine Group adopts safety standards that are more stringent than OSHA’s minimum requirements. During wintry weather, that means taking extra precautions to keep every worker safe.
To that end, we regularly educate our Associates and subcontractors about staying safe on the job site by taking the following precautions:
- Limit exposure. Workers should wear thermals, helmet liners, and insulated boots on the job. Keep skin covered and clothing as dry as possible. If any skin begins to get pale, hard or numb, move into a warm, dry area. Then, remove any tight or restricting clothing that might restrict blood flow.
- Know the site. Attend safety talks and review the site with a field supervisor to raise any concerns.
- Create circulation. Propane heaters are often used to warm up work sites; make sure windows are opened and fans are used strategically to circulate fresh air into the space.
- Store materials safely. Flammable and combustible materials should be stored and used away from heat sources, and hoses and fuel tanks should be kept clear from doorways, windows and other spaces that might get run into or run over.
- Warm up equipment. To ensure equipment runs smoothly, warm it up before putting it to work. Equipment and tools that were left outside may need to be de-iced before use.
- Watch your step. Use caution and increase your awareness, especially when working in exposed locations, like on ladders or scaffolding. Access points should be shoveled, sanded or salted to create better traction.
- Watch out for others. Every tradesman on the site is a key part of the team, so keep a friendly eye on your colleagues to ensure everybody is safe. Know the signs of frostbite, trench foot, and hypothermia, and act quickly if symptoms are present. If any workers display unusual fatigue or drowsiness, uncontrolled shivering or slurred speech, move them into a warm area, remove wet or restrictive clothing, and give them something warm and sugary to drink.
Construction doesn’t have to halt for wintry weather as long as steps are taken to keep the job site and the construction team safe.