The cold and rain can make regular construction work a lot more difficult. Especially because weather can be unpredictable here in the Pacific Northwest. Already this year we’ve had both some unusually warm temperatures, as well as snow. That’s why preparation is key! Knowing that it could continue to be cold, and likely wet, into the spring, here are some ways that you can ensure your staff stays safe and avoids injuries on the job:
Provide Warming Areas
If you can provide a small shack or tent area where your workers could go for a quick warm-up, perhaps to get a hot tea or other warm beverage, it’s a great way to keep them energized and performing well. Extremely low temperatures are rare in the PNW, but wet cold weather could keep fingers and toes from functioning at full capacity if exposed long enough.
Require Good Treads
Most craftsmen have a pair of boots for the job to protect their feet, but sometimes don’t pay attention to the tread. It can get slippery in the rain, so require them to wear footwear with the proper soles that will reduce the chances of stumbling on walkways, roofs and scaffolding.
It can be frustrating when you’re on a timeline, but it’s better to take the time to move cautiously through the rain. Encourage your staff to step carefully, especially on ladders and roofs, as falling from heights can cause the worst injuries.
Watch Out for Carbon Monoxide
Construction sites often have tools, generators, and heaters that use gasoline for power and put out a lot of carbon monoxide. Exposure can increase when working in areas with little ventilation, which tends to happen more often when workers are avoiding cold damp air. Make sure your site supervisors are trained to watch out for carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea.
Caution for Deep Trenches
Trench stability is compromised in the rain, making them more prone to cave-ins. They are deceptively risky for workers, and could collapse on them when deep enough. Sites with short project duration will sometimes have trenches without the proper sloping or guard with a trench box. Make sure workers don’t enter them if they are deeper than 4 feet, without the right precautions in place.
Require Proper Equipment
Equipment and tools should be rated for outdoor use when working in the rain, and especially if it’s electrical. Hand tools with non-slip textured grips are ideal. It sounds obvious, but sometimes the most obvious precautions are the most overlooked.
As always, we recommend you consult with Oregon or Washington OSHA for individual state safety policies and guides. If you’re looking for craftsmen for your next project in the sun, rain, or snow, call us at Madden and we’ll find you talented candidates that have the skills you’re looking for.