Winter Worksite Awareness
A variety of safety issues occur in winter weather conditions. All workers should be aware of the obvious and not so obvious conditions that may be encountered. Outdoor site conditions:
A fresh layer of snow can hide hazards such as soft spots, shallow holes or trenches, tripping hazards such as framing materials, rope and wire. Snow can hide slip hazards such as sheep plastic used as tarps or plywood. Whenever possible use a designated path or walkway when accessing a building or job site. Be sure to clear your shoes of mud or snow when entering a building. If workers are outdoors and using platform lifts or aerial booms, the work platform must be free of any snow and all ice. Be aware of the increased risk of slipping when getting on or off any lift, ladder or scaffold. Any scaffold that is erected outside needs to have the platform clear of ice and snow before being used. If the scaffold is erected on the ground, workers should make sure the soil is stable and wood pads should be used to distribute the load. If workers are on any roofs, the area of access and the work area need to be free of snow and ice. If an unsafe condition exists, do not work in that area until you can do so safely. When working outside, workers need to be aware of both weather conditions and what your body is telling you. Be aware of your body becoming cold and even though you are working outside, be sure to drink fluids. If worker hands or feet become cold, go inside and warm up.
Inside work conditions:
In many instances we are onsite once the initial framing of a structure is erected. Workers may be working on concrete that is exposed to snow, wind and ice. Workers should not be working on any concrete surface with snow or ice where a risk of slipping may occur. This is especially true if the concrete finish is a very smooth and final product. Workers need to be aware that even though a surface may just have water on it, it may actually be ice. Workers need to be aware that colder work conditions mean that the materials are also colder that handling materials is more difficult. Cords and electric powered tools need to be kept away from snow and ice. Stored materials should be protected from exposure to snow or ice whenever possible. If temporary heating is used in a building, workers should be aware of the possibility of exposure to Carbon Monoxide fumes. If a worker is feeling ill or feels dizzy, they need to report to their supervisor so that a improperly operating heater can be fixed or removed from use. Workers need to be aware that if propane bottles are used to provide fuel for the heaters, all bottles need to be on a stable surface and tied off to prevent them from tipping over. Workers should look at their immediate work area and be aware of their surroundings and possible hazards. If hazards are present, they must be eliminated whenever possible. If a condition exists where it is unsafe to work, workers need to report the condition to their supervisor and work in another area until the hazard is eliminated.