Winter is starting to set in here in Australia, and your construction sites are beginning to fill up with snow. As your project runs its course during the cold season, your workers may have trouble walking on slippery ladders and floors.
According to Safe Work Australia’s construction industry profiles, falls, slips and trips cause over 28% of injuries on site per year. This is second only to body stress (37%). What’s worse is that falls are also the #1 cause of fatalities, making up 28% of deaths a year. Read on to find out how you can protect your construction employees from harsh winters.
Prepare the Site
Before letting your workers in, it’s important that you have a safety inspector check the site for hazards. Take note of every slipping hazard and try to prevent employees from crossing those areas. If it’s an essential part of the project, melt the ice with salt or sand. Make sure every road is free of snow and potholes are appropriately marked with hazard signs.
Use automatic equipment if possible. People who manually shovel snow are often at risk of heart injuries. This is because the cold air combined with increased blood pressure and heart rate from the task can constrict arteries and cause a heart attack.
Equip for the Cold
Once you’ve made the work area safe for foot traffic, it’s time to give your workers on-site protection supplies for the winter. Waterproof boots with slip-resistant soles should be your top priority. You’ll also need lined hard hats to help protect your workers’ heads from both falling objects and the extreme cold. Next, issue waterproof gloves lined with thermal materials. These help your employees work on tools easily without getting their hands numb. As for jackets, you should select ones that have both thermal and absorbent lining to make sure that your employees stay dry, as wet skin accelerates the development of frostbite.
Construct a Heated Break Room
As discussed earlier, intense physical activities during the cold weather may cause heart injuries. As such, you should give your employees more frequent breaks. Help them warm up by providing heaters in their break rooms. Give them extra shirts so they can change out of their wet clothing. It also helps to have the company nurse on standby to check on the workers from time to time.
Inspect Your Vehicles
Before your workers use the company vehicles and mechanical equipment, make sure the batteries are charged up and attach warmers so they don’t freeze up overnight. Make sure the tires still have a good grip to avoid vehicles from skidding on icy roads. Add some anti-freeze to the engines to ensure that they don’t have any problems starting up. This routine ensures that your vehicles don’t get damaged during use, and your employees feel safe and confident behind the wheel.
Once you’ve taken these precautions, you can rest easy knowing that your workers are safe from the harsh cold and physical injuries that come with winter. When the weather gets extreme, you should cancel operations altogether and come back when the storm has cleared up. While these breaks may stifle your project’s productivity, you should never put your employees’ health at risk just to stick to the timeline.