As we head into winter, the working environment for many construction workers is going to change and they’ll be faced with new challenges. The winter weather in the UK has the potential to hit construction workers hard, strong winds, freezing temperatures, snow, ice and lots of rain will all have an impact on the health and safety of workers on a site and workers must be aware of risks associated with bad weather.
As the UK weather is uncontrollable and unpredictable, taking precautions to ensure site operatives stay safe is essential.
Cold / Freezing temperatures:
Cold and freezing temperatures is the obvious weather-related obstacle that construction workers will have to face. Cold temperatures will mean workers will have to deal with cooling body temperatures and also skin which when combined with wet weather or damp can lead to illness. Making sure workers have the right clothing to combat this is crucial, high-quality water-proof clothing and lots of layers will help to maintain a warm body temperature and keep the rain out. Being exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time could lead to hypothermia, so try and make working in freezing conditions short and make sure there is somewhere warm for workers to take breaks.
It is also important to make sure that both feet and hands stay warm and dry. Allowing your feet to get damp can lead to serious hygiene issues such as trench boot and exposing hands to the cold all day can lead to frostbite, especially if you’re handling metals. Making sure workers have high-quality gloves and work boots where necessary is a simple and easy way to help mitigate these risks.
High Winds / Storms:
Working at heights is already the most common cause of injury in construction and the dangers are increased dramatically during the winter months. High winds and stormy weather make working at height a lot more dangerous so making sure those who are asked to work at height have the necessary training is crucial.
Other risks associated with high winds can be debris that might be blown causing damage to the environment or people on site. Making sure risk assessments are complete to make people aware of the risks and putting procedures in place to reduce the risks are recommended.
Perhaps the most dangerous risk workers will face during the winter is ice. Working from heights will be incredibly dangerous if ice is prominent on the area in which the workers are operating. It is also a slip hazard for anyone working on ice and those who are having to operate, or drive machinery will need to be made aware of the risks associated with icy conditions.
Winter is an extremely harsh time for those working in construction and the risks for injury are increased due to the cold conditions so make sure you’re aware of your environment and do what you can to reduce those risks and keep warm.