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Home Tradesman Insights A guide to staying safe on-site this winter

A guide to staying safe on-site this winter

Plunging temperatures and shorter days make construction sites uniquely perilous environments in winter. Icy terrain underfoot disguises trip risks, while low light and finger-numbing conditions spur mistakes handling materials.

But with careful preparation and adjusted working practices, you can maintain productivity through the colder months while protecting yourself and colleagues from seasonal hazards. 

Assess Site Conditions Daily

Establish essential safety foundations by thoroughly checking work zones before deploying teams each morning using:

  • Walk-through Inspections – Personally tour full site perimeter scanning for ice patches, debris obstacles and areas prone to flooding that require gritting, clearing or pumping to enable safe access.
  • Thermal Imaging Cameras – Affordable IR tools identifying surface hotspots now reveal slipping risks invisible to the naked eye. Scan regularly throughout shifts catching changes.
  • Anemometers – Measure wind speeds across exposed roof spaces ensuring teams safety handle sheeting and scaffolds within stability tolerances given gust variability.
  • Hygrometers And Thermometers – Use combined gadgets recording air temperature, precipitation and humidity levels ensuring conditions remain workable before allowing ladder climbing, concreting or cable laying where thresholds apply.

Update PPE Provisions

Protect the workforce from the elements by providing:

  • Insulated Waterproof Workwear – Source thin padded jackets and anchored footwear that keep core temperatures comfortable without restricting movement during demanding physical jobs.
  • Heated USB Gloves – Rechargeable handwear with electric heating elements keep fingers flexible for fiddly tasks. 
  • Base Layer Essentials – Breathable merino wool tops and leggings avoid sweat build-up. Using natural fabric prevents smelly synthetic garments being worn day-to-day.
  • Waterproof Knee Pads – Cushioned knee protection prevents painful cold and dampness seeping through standard foam alternatives when laying floors.
  • Anti-Fog Safety Glasses – Upgrade eyewear to avoid vision-obscuring misting which risks blind drilling and cutting in damp atmospheres.

Optimise Site Layouts

Efficient site organisation and structures boost winter safety through:

Covered Walkways

Wooden roofed passageways provide safely segregated amenities access between cabins and marquees avoiding slippery surface crossings.

External Lighting

Flood key zones like toilet blocks, equipment stores and vehicle routes provide visibility after daylight fades in winter’s shorter hours.

Pack-Away Tool Stations

Movable tool caddies protect frequently used drills, nail guns and metres from rain damage after shifts and prevent morning ice seizing mechanisms.

Heated Mess Marquees

Insulated tents with thermostat-controlled warm air blowers provide comfortable company break areas, protecting teams from getting cold when stationary. These boost morale and productivity.

Operate Responsible Working Hours

Diligently safeguard employee welfare by:

Monitoring Exposure Times

Set maximum shift lengths for those working outside like ground workers, scaffolders and bricklayers to prevent dangerous cold setting in.

Providing Warm Drinks

Ensure tents stock free teas, coffees and hot chocolate to replenish sugar and electrolyte levels.

Scheduling Regular Breaks

Enforce hourly huddles in mess tents for short recuperation from cold, wet or repetitive strain to restore circulation and rest eyes.

Offering Flexi-Working

Empower teams to start later or down tools early should conditions suddenly deteriorate during shifts. 

Stressing Symptom Vigilance

Educate all to stay alert to early hypothermia symptoms requiring swift first aid like impaired motor skills, shallow breathing and discoloured flaky skin. Fatalities must be prevented.

Compare Specialist Winter Insurance

Operating safely on-site through treacherous winter months brings heavy liabilities. Ensure your business stays fully protected year-round with Tradesman Saver’s public liability insurance packages covering you against property damage, personal injury claims and weather disruption eventualities like frozen pipe leaks or storm destruction. Stay covered whatever the season!

Tradesman Talk

Do you follow any additional winter site safety protocols we’ve overlooked? What key preparations help you continue thriving while protecting teams amid plummeting temperatures? Share your insights below!

Until next time, make sure it’s Tradesman Saver.

Darragh Timlin

With over 25 years’ experience, Darragh is an expert in all things insurance. Starting his career in commercial property underwriting, Darragh has worked for a number of global insurers and is now Managing Director of Tradesman Saver, part of the wider Henry Seymour Group.

All articles by Darragh Timlin

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