Mowery Winter Safety Tips
Written By: Mike Monaco, Safety Director
One of the emerging challenges on a construction site is how to predict and react to extreme weather conditions. In 2018, we encountered the second wettest year in history for Pennsylvania. This included 10 out of 12 months of the year with above average precipitation.
In the Northeast, the months of January through March are known for sudden temperature swings bringing high winds, heavy snow, mixed precipitation resulting in dangerous icing conditions, and brutally cold temperatures. As construction professionals, we must be prepared for extreme winter weather and the hazards it can present to the workforce.
Employers should monitor the weather forecast along with actual conditions and have a system in place to communicate with workers in the event work needs to be stopped. OSHA provides the following additional guidance:
• Provide workers with the proper tools and equipment to do their jobs in cold weather
• Develop work plans that identify potential hazards and the safety measures that will be used to protect workers
• Avoid worker exposure to extremely cold temperatures when possible
• Limit the amount of time workers spend outdoors on extremely cold days
• Provide warm areas for use during break periods
• Monitor workers who are at risk of cold stress
Workers can do their part as well, by keeping a close eye on the weather forecast in order to understand what’s ahead. Though not always perfectly accurate, the weather forecast does provide information on upcoming trends. Before going out in cold weather, make sure you have on several layers of warm, loose-fitting clothing. Protect your head and extremities with a hat and insulated gloves. Keep your feet warm and dry on the job with waterproof insulated boots. Always take along some extra clothing in case you get wet. Finally, pay attention to your body – if you feel you are experiencing cold stress, go to a warm break area, job trailer or vehicle and notify your employer immediately.