Avoiding Worksite Injuries in Winter

Falls and other accidents on the jobsite are too common in construction at any time of year, and the winter month bring even greater risk exposure. Here are some suggestions to minimize winter dangers on the worksite.

Budget time differently: Outdoor projects in the winter will not proceed at the same pace as work done in milder temperatures. Days are shorter and employees are likely to be less productive in heavy cold-weather attire. Set realistic expectations up front about the pace of work and avoid the temptation to pressure team members to move faster, which can lead to carelessness and accidents. Have a heated break area available and make sure any heaters are properly vented.

Keep work surfaces clear: You may have to change the way labor is budgeted also, detailing team members for snow and ice removal before work can begin. Any surface that employees will be operating on, including the ground, should be free of snow or ice. Have plenty of salt, sand or ice melt on hand.

Increase ladder safety: Just as people slip on icy surfaces, so do ladders, which are a leading cause of emergency room visits even in good weather. The entire ladder, not just the rungs, must be clear of snow and ice, and the surfaces ladders will rest on should also be clean and dry.

Gear up properly: An employee who’s uncomfortably cold is likely to be rushed and distracted, an invitation to injury on a worksite. Be certain that your team is equipped with the right gear to keep them as comfortable as possible, from insulated non-slip boots to coveralls and warm headgear.  Gloves are especially tricky, and need to offer both warmth and the manual dexterity necessary to accomplish tasks. Also check the fit of fall arrest harnesses or other safety gear, which may be affected by additional layers of clothing.

Don’t forget the equipment. Cold weather can stress electrical wires and hydraulic or air hoses, and that can lead to injury. Make sure equipment is properly warmed up before using it, treat pneumatic tools and hoses with antifreeze tool oil, and pre-fire any nail guns or other fastening equipment at a lower PSI to warm them up before using.

Questions about jobsite safety and risk exposures? Contact Consolidated Insurance.