How to Stay Safe on the Job Site This Winter

Wednesday, 23 November
Slinger in an orange helmet on unloading ice blocks-cm

It’s easy to poke a little fun at corny safety training videos, extremely precise rules and regulations, and the incessant reminder that safety comes first. But when push comes to shove on the job site, craftsmen understand better than anyone the vital importance of sticking to the basics of safety. When winter sets in, the stakes are even higher, demanding more attention to detail and additional safety protocols. Let’s look at some ways craftsmen can stay safe on the job site this winter.

Proactively stay warm.

Contrary to popular belief, hypothermia sets in subtly and quickly. You don’t have to get stuck on Mt. Everest in a t-shirt to succumb to this dangerous condition. It’s a gradual process that’s tough to spot until the damage has already been done. The key to staving off hypothermia is proactively staying warm. Just like staying hydrated on the job site, avoiding hypothermia is about keeping yourself from becoming too cold in the first place, not warming yourself up every time it gets too chilly. Here are some tips for staying warm and toasty no matter how cold it gets on the job site:

  • Buy insulated gear (i.e. boots, hat, gloves, jacket, etc)
  • Use hand and feet warmers
  • Pack a warm meal
  • Drink hot beverages like coffee or tea
  • Take regular breaks to warm up inside
Become the resident weatherman.

Winter weather is notoriously volatile, especially in the northwest. Conditions can shift from mild and manageable to hectic and hazardous within minutes. Your best defense against this unpredictability is staying on top of daily weather forecasts for the local area. Plan to complete riskier tasks where you’re more at the mercy of the elements when conditions are cooperative. Save the responsibilities where you’re less exposed for when winter weather hits its strides. Obviously, these predictions aren’t accurate 100% of the time, but they can help you avoid being vulnerable when rough weather conditions strike.

Get weather-appropriate PPE.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is a lifesaver…literally. But as the temperature begins to plunge, craftsmen often find this essential protection becoming more of a nuisance than during other parts of the year. Winter PPE is bulkier and heavier than standard designs due to added insulation and waterproof materials. Ironically, these safety measures can end up causing their own hazards by getting in the way of your work, restricting mobility, and limiting vision. It’s important to find a balance between functionality and comfort when selecting winter PPE. The best winter gear is out there, it just takes some time to find it.

Invest in shoes with a strong grip.

No matter how much snow you shovel or ice you put down on the job site, you’re not going to achieve ideal work conditions. Throughout the winter, working surfaces are going to remain slippery whenever rain, snow, or ice occurs. Heck, even fog can make it harder to get around smoothly. Investing in a solid pair of construction shoes with a strong grip can help reduce slips, spills, and slides to avoid costly and painful injuries. If you really want to protect yourself, grab a pair with an insulated and waterproof design to keep your feet warm and dry. Your employer might even cover the cost.

Further Reading: Check out our tips for classic brown boots for more stylish occasions.

Put emergency aid kits in service vehicles.

You can’t anticipate when or where emergencies will occur. That’s where preparation comes into play. The harsh winter conditions increase the likelihood of craftsmen succumbing to both minor and major injuries. Placing a well-stocked emergency aid kit in all service vehicles and machines is a great way to ensure necessary supplies are available in a pinch whenever an emergency strikes. The specific items you place in the kit will depend on the scope of the project, but here are some essentials to throw into every first-aid bag.

  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Bandages
  • Scissors
  • Instructions
  • Sterile Pads
  • Eyewash
  • Alcohol

Whether you’re looking for an apprenticeship program to start a career in the construction industry or you’re searching for craftsmen positions with local employers, you’re in the right place. Madden Craftsmen has been helping craftsmen in the PNW succeed in the construction market for decades. Check out our employee resources to get started.

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