Winter health and safety

Winter health and safety

winter health and safety

winter health and safety

Over the last few years the weather really has been unpredictable all around Europe. Severe winters, extremely hot summers and not just that even a few volcano eruptions...

Also precipitation and wind levels have increased, not the kind of weather we are used to, especially in the northern part of the continent.

These recent climatic conditions have put even more pressure on the construction industry along with the economic recession and not to mention reductions of government expenditure for the sector.

Contractors are rushed to complete projects, no matter what the weather conditions are. We would like to believe this is without increased risk or however winter health and safety is a real concern.

During winter health and safety, the main concerns for building companies are frost, especially when conducting crucial processes of construction, such as setting concrete in wind, heavy rain and snow.

One of the most popular ways of protecting building sites and workers from the elements is the use of temporary roofs. This can often be achieved by using protection elements on site like scaffolding towers and similar structures creating barriers against the elements.

Winter health and safety

Severe weather conditions are known to affect completion dead lines for most construction projects, but more importantly they create dangerous hazards for the workforce and the public.

Windy, wet or snowy weather could create slip hazards not just for people but also reduces friction in objects that could fall from elevated areas,

On the other end of the scale the unusual high temperatures in summer the last few years, are known to have caused heat exhaustion and heat strokes among many workers.

Such risks are making building site winter health and safety more important and should never be compromised.

Conducting continuous risk assessments regularly when conditions have changed is a must and remember to keep walkways and work surfaces clean, salted and gritted when frost or snow is likely

The key is planning and is extremely important, and good planning is also  extremely cost-effective.

Where possible, any work at height should be avoided.

A good way to avoid it is by pre-assembling the elements of the build at ground level, ensure that you know where every post, clamp and hole is going to be, reducing considerable time of work on scaffold towers and reducing the possible risk of needing to drill a holes into new set concrete.

During the planning stage, managers should consider all forms of collective safety measures such as edge protections and fall prevention and even steel mesh barrier systems (compliant with the European Standard EN13374), safety net fans (approved to EN1263).
No matter what the weather conditions, a basic tool to protect workers is the use of an appropriate PPE (Personnel Protective Equipment).

It is an obligation of every employer to insure, the correct PPE is used, according to weather conditions, falling objects, use of chemicals, slippy surfaces, etc.

As a minimum requirement for a construction worker it is necessary to have a protective helmet (actually, any person authorized to be on a building site should wear one), gloves, eye protection, high visibility clothing, safety footwear and so on.

Certain measures are proven to give good results during severe winter cold conditions, such as working in pairs, providing warm welfare facilities, increasing calorie intake, or when possible choosing to work during the warmest hours of the day.
If a good planning process has taken place, a construction project will run smoothly and without weather or safety related delays. This is ultimately cost-effective, safe and generally a more productive way of building.

Winter health and safety

If you would like any help or advice on this or any other health and safety matter please feel free to contact us using the form below.

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