5 Winter Construction Site Safety Tips

By on November 7, 2018

From For Construction Pros:  Winter on a construction site comes with a whole host of hazards. From slips and trips to frozen fingers and damaged equipment, cold temperatures require specific countermeasures to ensure a safe and productive site during the winter months.

1. Winter checks and inspections

Prior to the winter season, roadways and parking areas should be maintained so they are free of pot holes and uneven surfaces. Once the ground is frozen, access maintenance becomes much more difficult. Having a well-maintained road before winter starts will make snow removal and maintenance easier once worse conditions blow in. Any holes, excavations or ditching that can’t be filled in should be delineated using barricades and marked clearly, even if it snows.

As part of the usual on-site checks, take the time to specifically consider problems that only occur during winter. Inclines that appear perfectly benign in autumn could potentially becomes dangerous slipping hazards with a little ice, especially on wooden ramps and scaffolding.

Keep any reserves of sand, salt or grit you plan to use readily available, and create a safe procedure to implement safety measures when the time comes.

Make sure fluids, such as engine and hydraulic oils, in your equipment are rated for the temperatures in your area, and replace them if needed. Check that heaters in cabs are working properly, and regularly clear off ice or snow from windscreens and steps.

Drain fluid from air compressor tanks after each use to prevent the moisture that has accumulated from freezing and damaging the tank. Put antifreeze tool oil in your pneumatic tools and air hoses to protect against the cold. You should also ensure that tools are used differently in cold weather. For example, fire empty nail guns at 40 PSI in freezing temperatures to warm them up before use.

Near the end of the winter season it will be time to prepare for spring melt. Good site preparation during pre-season planning will ensure that preparations for spring melt are already in place.

At the end of the winter season equipment and materials may need to be ordered that will be needed for spring melt such as pumps and hoses for dewatering. Prior to spring melt, review the plan and ensure that planned water run-off areas are still appropriate.

Also, determine if ditching systems will be able to handle the amount of water that may accumulate based on the amount of snow. Assume the worst-case scenario and that all the snow will melt very quickly.

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