The winter months can bring many safety hazards and dangerous working conditions, especially around construction sites. The temperature dips, causing bad weather, ice and snow, increasing the risk for slips, falls, and illnesses. Here are some safety tips on how to stay safe during the winter months.
6 Winter Work Safety Tips
1. Keep track of the weather
If you’re aware of bad weather, you can take the proper precautions and minimize the risk. You’ll know ahead of time when you need to dress in additional layers or when you need to be extra careful because of ice, freezing rain, or sleet. Propose to your supervisor that they provide daily weather updates during the colder months so that everyone can be on the same page.
2. Report health and safety concerns
Keep an eye out for icy or slippery conditions around your work site. You might save yourself or a coworker. If you feel the work environment isn’t safe enough to work in, you should report it immediately to your manager and follow their instructions.
3. Wear the right clothing
Again, pay attention to the weather forecast. Sure, there will be days when the sun is out and you don’t need much more than a jacket, but then there will be other days when you’ll have frigid temperatures, strong winds, and precipitation. Make sure you dress in sufficient layers. Your Personal Protection Equipment is also designed to protect you from bad weather. You might have heavy-duty moisture-resistant jackets, insulated gloves and hats, and boots with non-slip soles. Make sure you take off wet layers and dry out your gear each day to prevent frostbite and hypothermia.
4. Limit caffeine
It’d be nice to have a steaming mug of coffee each day, but excessive amounts of caffeine can actually be harmful in the winter. It provides a false sensation of warmth and can increase your heart rate to dangerous levels. Instead, stay hydrated with lots of water—it’s healthier and safer.
5. Prepare your vehicles
Driving in winter conditions is always dangerous no matter what you drive, so make sure your work vehicles are fully operational. Run the engine first so you don’t get stranded in the cold and make sure a coworker or supervisor always knows where you’re going. All vehicles should have a flashlight, blanket, flares, snacks and water, just in case.
6. Look out for cold stress
Anyone who spends too much time in the cold or wet could be at risk for cold stress—either trench foot, frostbite, or hypothermia. Trench foot occurs when feet are constantly wet, causing them to become red, swollen, numb, or even blistered. Frostbite is when the skin and underlying tissue is frozen, typically affecting the hands and feet first. Symptoms include numbness and reddened skin with grey or white patches. Hypothermia is when the body loses its heat too quickly, causing extreme shivering, followed by a complete cessation of shivering, disorientation, and eventually loss of consciousness.
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