Winter Roofing Work – How to Stay Warm on Construction Sites in Winter
Over the past two weeks we’ve been bringing you some information and advice on working on roofs in the winter, how to stay safe, how to recognise the signs that you are physically suffering from the cold and how and how to ensure that workers on construction sites have the facilities and equipment necessary to work in the harshest months of the year. As promised, today we’re going to take a look at what you can do to keep yourself warm and safe when working on construction sites, especially at height, during the coldest few months of the year.
- The first step is to ensure that you have and use the right personal protective equipment (PPE) and extra clothing that is suitable both for the job and for the weather conditions. Wearing several thin layers of clothing is more effective (and more practical) than wearing just one heavy, bulky item over your usual workwear. The outer layer should be waterproof or wind-resistant, if necessary.
- Choose water-resistant footwear, with slip resistant soles – in freezing temperatures, add ice grips to your work boots for extra protection against slips and falls.
- Wear thermal gloves whenever possible (and if the temperature drops below 4°C. When fine manual dexterity is required for a task, fingerless gloves may prove useful for short periods of time.
- The risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome is increased during cold weather, so keeping hands and arms warm is vital, especially when using vibratory tools and equipment like drills, nail guns and some hand tools.
- Choose a cap that can safely be worn with a safety helmet (some suppliers offer thermal beanie type hats that are specifically designed for use with a safety helmet). Make sure that any extra headgear does not compromise eye safety or hearing protection.
- With reduced visibility due to both poor weather conditions and earlier twilight, it’s vital to ensure that you wear reflective PPE so that you can easily be seen.
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms of exposure to the cold, such as shivering, numbness, fatigue and drowsiness.
- Take plenty of breaks in heated areas and make sure you drink plenty of fluids, including water and warm beverages. Your employer may allow you to take more breaks that are shorter during very cold weather so that you can limit your exposure to the cold.
- Make sure that you report any hazardous areas to the site manager. Conditions on construction sites can change rapidly during colder weather, so the initial site safety check done in the morning may not be applicable later in the day, especially if the temperature has dropped or it’s begun to rain or snow.
Never forget that, although your employer is responsible for the health and safety of all workers onsite, you also have a responsibility – both to yourself and to everybody else on site. Make sure that you are constantly aware of risks and make a habit of checking on your colleagues too. Safety is the responsibility of everybody on site – keeping that in mind will go a long way towards keeping construction and roofing work safe in winter.