Feel confident in your safety while you work on site this winter with our blog packed with tips to help!

Working in the winter months means hazardous conditions for everyone but more for the construction and manufacturing employees who must be on a work site every day. Tradies know construction sites have their hazards and safety risks but when you add whipping wind and icy conditions, those safety risks increase exponentially.

Taking the right precautions must be a priority for you and for your colleagues to work safely. Australia’s work-related fatalities are down 50% from the 2007 peak according to SafeWork Australia, which shows that there is a targeted focus on employee safety.

With the colder weather setting in, you need all the tips you can get to keep that statistic trending down and remain safe on site. We’ve put together a list of helpful tips to prepare you and your co-workers for working outside as the temperatures drop – let’s take a look!

Stock Up on Protective Gear

The very first thing that you should do before you head out to work is to communicate what you need from your employer to be safe on the site. If you’re working at a height in freezing weather the chances are high that your hands are going to be colder, which can lead to tools being dropped. When something like this is a risk asking for a tether for tools enables you to work safely – as are gloves!

Personal Protective Equipment includes heavy-duty waterproof jackets, lined hats and insulated gloves and all with hi-vis capabilities. When visibility is low due to the weather, you need to be seen so you can be safe.

Your employer should talk you through the importance of wearing sturdy boots with a deep tread rather than smooth-soled shoes on a job site, too. Slips and falls are common when it’s icy, but the right boots can help you to avoid that happening.

Watch the Weather

If you are working outdoors, it’s smart to watch the weather forecasts. The Victorian Trades Hall Council recommended that tradies leave work if the temperature drops below zero in the winter. Keeping an eye on the weather will tell you whether you should be on-site, how many breaks you should be taking when the mercury drops and how long a cold-weather system will last.

It’s far better to check the weather and be prepared for any potential hazards before you arrive on the job than it is to get there and not know what’s ahead for the day. You’ll be better equipped to keep others safe when the weather is looking awful and you can let your management team know the conditions, too.

Be Aware of Extreme Cold Weather Effects

Did you know that tradespeople are at serious risk of cold stress when they’re working outside?  Prolonged exposure to low temperatures can have an adverse effect on the human body and if you aren’t wearing the right gear the long-term health effects can be hard to manage. Some of the signs of cold stress include:

  • Trench foot. Keeping spare socks and boots handy on a worksite is a smart thing to do if you are working in cold and wet conditions for too long. Trench foot occurs when the feet are wet for an extensive period.
  • Frostbite. When the skin and the underlying tissue freezes, frostbite can develop and usually affects the hands and feet first. It’s due to frostbite that it’s recommended to have insulated protective gloves while you work.
  • Hypothermia. When the body is losing heat too quickly, hypothermia can settle in. It’s more common in extremely low temperatures and immediate medical help is necessary.

If you have any concerns about working in wintry weather this winter the best thing that you can do is speak to your recruiter and your site manager. Your concerns should be heard and while Auckland is known as a place of beautiful weather and sunshine there are still cold places where construction work must happen. Being aware of the weather will keep you safe!

Worried? Report It!

When the winter weather becomes more extreme and the rain and wind ramp up, you’re going to notice more hazards than at any other time. We are not built for extreme conditions but when you add scaffolding and other potential site hazards, awareness is key.

Ice can form very quickly during low temperatures which can make you worry about slip hazards. Any concerns? Report it to your manager and your co-workers. During winter the wind gust speeds are higher than usual which makes those scaffolding sites a bigger risk.

Your wellbeing is vital on the job and if you feel that there is a severe workplace health and safety risk or you are feeling unwell because of the effects of the weather, report it to your site manager before you do anything else.

Summary

You and your colleagues deserve to be safe on the job and that includes during the winter months. Even when the weather isn’t blowing a blizzard at you, the combination of rain and cooler temperatures can be hazardous when it’s not the climate you’re used to.

If you have any concerns about working on site during the winter the best thing that you can do is contact your recruitment consultant at Employment Group today. Make safety a priority this winter with our help.

Author – Employment Group