THE ULTIMATE SAFETY CHECKLIST FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS IN COLD CONDITIONS
Some days, Mother Nature does her damnedest to keep you inside, but you know the job still has to get done. When you work construction in the cold, you need right knowledge and the right gear to keep yourself safe and working hard—so let’s talk about some safety practices for extreme cold conditions.
Know Your Enemy
The cold has many weapons in its arsenal, the biggest being frostbite, frostnip, trench foot and hypothermia. It’s important to have response procedures ready to roll if there’s a cold-related health emergency.
Some conditions, like frostbite, usually need medical attention from a professional. Others, like frostnip, can probably be treated on-site if you have a warm place to go. So read up on first aid for cold-related injuries, stock first aid and winter survival kits in all of your company vehicles and have an in-depth plan for how to transport an injured person to the nearest doctor or hospital.
Prepping the Job Site
A construction site should have special preparations in cold weather. Before work starts, use rock salt or de-icer to melt ice on walkways and clear snow from the ground and rooftops. Make sure there are walkable paths, laying some gravel down if you need to.
Any cold-weather job site needs a designated place where workers can easily get warm. Whether you’re applying first aid or just taking a coffee break, it’s important that nobody has to be out in the cold unless they’re working. Every employee on the job site should be taking frequent breaks to warm up—some experts even recommend breaks as often as every 20 to 30 minutes if it’s really cold.
Tents and trailers are popular forms of pop-up shelters for warmth. Even vehicles can do the trick in a pinch, though you don’t want to rely on them too much. A big part of staying warm is staying dry, so make sure your chosen shelter seals out rain and snow.
Multiple Layers of Cold-Weather Clothing
Most construction projects start with laying a foundation and building up from there. That’s how your cold-weather gear should work, too.
Build your armor against the cold by putting on multiple layers of protection, including a moisture-wicking base layer, and insulated mid-layer such as a hoodie and a weatherproof outer layer such as a jacket or coveralls.
Footwear that Kicks Serious Ice
From frostbite to trench foot, it’s clear that the cold is dangerous to a worker’s feet. You need boots with these key features to make sure you get the right pair of cold-weather work boots:
Use RefrigiWear® Comfort Ratings to help find the right amount of insulation for the temperatures you face.
Anti-slip rubber outsoles help you stand strong amid ice and mud. Puncture-resistant rubber plates to help you avoid dangers like exposed nails.
Water inside your boots can lead to trench foot and it can wreck your body’s internal temperatures. You can trust the high-grade waterproofing on RefrigiWear® insulated work boots to keep your feet dry even in the wettest conditions.
Even the best boots can’t reach their potential if they don’t have performance socks working with them, so remember to pick up a pair of moisture-wicking, comfort-soft work socks.
Gloves that Can Handle It
Well-insulated gloves are a must and RefrigiWear has options like the ultra-thick Iron-Tuff® Insulated Leather Gloves or lighter like our Insulated Wool Gloves. It’s also important you have enough dexterity to work without taking your gloves off, so consider the warm and flexible waterproof Frostline Glove.
Your jobs takes brains. It’s important to keep yours safe. Proper headwear is another must-have for a cold-weather job site.
A classic beanie, like the RefrigiWear® ChillBreaker™ Cap, can go a long way toward keeping your head warm and dry. If you’re worried about extreme wind levels, a full-face balaclava might give you better protection. And, if precipitation is on your mind, think about options like our Iron-Tuff® Snap-On Hoods.
Take Precautions to Outwork Mother Nature
Mother Nature will try to take you down. If you’re gonna outwork her, make sure your jobsite is fully prepared. Follow our tips to work safely in cold weather, like drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration, packing an extra change of base layer clothes in case you get wet and, since the cold puts stress on your immune system, sanitizing hands often to avoid getting sick.
No matter what the thermometer says, the job’s still gotta get done. If you follow these steps and equip yourself with the right gear, nothing will slow you down. Now get out there and show the cold who’s boss.