Cold weather can create health and safety problems on site, so it’s best to nip them in the bud before they start or eliminate them when they do. Here are some common ‘cold weather problems’ and their solutions.
1. You need hands: Handling cold, wet materials such as concrete blocks can damage palms and fingers. Materials (such as bricks, block, timber and metal scaffolding) that have acquired an icy coating can become hard to hold onto and can slip out of your hands. Wear the sort of gloves that will provide good warmth and a good grip.
2. Slips, trips and falls: These can happen on external staircases, walkways, footpaths and working platforms. Keep all these – and other routes – clear of snow and ice.
3. See the light: The winter months mean shorter days and less natural light. Optimise lighting levels on communal staircases to keep people leaving and entering the building safe.
4. Stand out from the dark: Stay visible by wearing the correct hi-vis clothing to avoid the risk of collision.
5. Seeing the light: Ensure that site vehicles and plant have the correct, clean, working lights (including headlights and reversing lights) fitted.
6. If static, keep warm: If you’re carrying out a task which involves standing still while you’re doing it, you’ll need extra PPE such as thermal boots/gloves/coat and maybe cold weather protection for your head.
7. Plan for the freeze: Low temperature and wind chill can cause hypothermia and reduce dexterity and alertness – a particular risk for people operating plant or hazardous equipment. The Branch Manager needs to factor this into the planning of works, keeping track of the weather forecast.
8. Mud, mud, not-so-glorious mud: If mud has been transferred from the site to the road it could cause accidents for the public, so you may need to carry out wheel-washing at the site exit. But this could create another hazard for the public and for the site – so grit where necessary.