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Tips for Winter-Proofing a Work Zone

December 10, 2019
Komatsu machine plowing through snow.

Winter construction can encounter harsh weather conditions, so it's crucial to keep construction workers free of cold-related injuries. Following these safety tips can help lower weather-related risks and threats:

Protecting Against Cold Weather

Before winter begins, an article in OHSCanada suggests completing a hazard assessment involving management, clients, contractors, and workers. The meeting should address topics such as "a schedule of activities, availability of equipment, and site mobilization" during the winter months.

The article also urges managers to monitor the weather when creating work schedules. 

Common hazards include:

  • Slippery surfaces and reduced traction
  • Potholes covered in snow
  • Poor road conditions
  • Falling snow and ice
  • Reduced visibility 

Selecting Winter PPE

Throughout the winter months, workers should wear clothing in layers, allowing them to shed them easily if temperatures suddenly increase. OSHA recommends wearing at least three layers of loose fitting clothing, providing better insulation. Boots, gloves, and eyewear should also be chosen depending on the work environment and employee role.

Preparing for Emergency

Since first responders can take more time to arrive on scene during bad weather, the article emphasizes that it is important workers are given basic first aid training. Employers should train workers on how to recognize the symptoms of cold stress, and the importance of self-monitoring and monitoring others for symptoms. 

Every vehicle on site should be equipped with items such as a first-aid kit, batteries, and snow removal equipment. Shelter should also be set up before work begins.

Vehicle Maintenance 

Employers should ensure heavy equipment operators are safe by conducting checks of the machinery before use (look for snow and ice buildup, or cracks and rust). The article also recommends letting the machine warm up before working, and ensuring all fluids are at optimal levels. 

Source: OHS Canada & OSHA

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