Four ways to stay warmer on the job site this winter
Too-cold workers will cost your firm money as their efficiency drops with the mercury. Here are some ways to help your crews stay warm.
By John Bleasby
One morning very soon, you’re going to look out your window and guess what? Everything will be white and the temperature will be well below zero. That’s when the winter construction season begins in earnest. Working outside or in unheated interior spaces from early November until March is no fun at all. Production slows down, days are lost as cases of colds and the flu increase, and in the worst cases, there can be minor frostbite on toes and fingers. Add some freezing rain or snow or blasts of high wind, and site safety begins to play a role.
As an employer, it’s your responsibility to take precautions to ensure your workers stay warm enough to be safe and functional.
4 ways to make sure winter work is safe and efficient
- Let your workers take some warm-up breaks, maybe every 90 minutes or two hours. Introduce a stretch or two into the warm up.
- Be sure they have some warm drinks, but avoid alcohol and caffeine.
- Did you know smoking constrict blood flow to the skin? Don’t encourage butt-breaks!
- Learn to recognize the symptoms of severe coldness or the effects of medication in colder conditions.
Protective clothing is vital.
Use the layered approach to avoid overheating, with a moisture-wicking layer closest to the skin to keep sweat build-up from chilling down again. Keep the outer layers loose enough to prevent restriction but tight enough to avoid anything catching. And of course, take care of the extremities; make sure your team wears insulated gloves and adds an insulation insole to their work boots. And under that hard hat, add a thin wool cap, perhaps with pull-down ear protection.
We all know that Canadian construction workers are tough as they come, but that doesn’t mean overlooking sensible steps to ensure and safe and relatively comfortable work environment. And from the bottom-line standpoint, the increased efficiency will be worth the effort.
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