How to stay safe on building sites this winter

As dark, damp, wintry elements are with us for the months ahead, it is imperative that construction workers stay safe while working outdoors.

Shorter daylight hours and darker nights can present challenging and hazardous conditions for construction workers but following our simple tips can prevent any accidents happening.

Potentially fatal dangers on a building site have been highlighted by the Health and Safety Executive after they carried out a month-long campaign, making 1,748 unannounced visits to building sites.

They found unacceptable conditions and dangerous practices at nearly half of the sites visited, with one in five so poor that formal enforcement action was required.

To stay safe, here is a guide to avoid accidents from happening while working on a building site:

  • Take time to clean lights, mirrors and windows of construction plant vehicles, such as diggers and cranes, so the operator has clear visibility all around. A banksman should be on hand where appropriate to direct the operator.
  • Areas should be well-illuminated to avoid any trips, slips and falls.
  • Safety measures should be taken when working at height, with extra precautions during the winter months. Security harnesses should be worn to prevent a fall, safety netting in place and a job rotation plan to keep workers adequately rested.
  • Stay warm and dry by wearing appropriate clothes like gloves, woolly hats and waterproofs – as long as they do not interfere with protective gear such as hard hats, ear protectors and visibility jackets. Use heating pads if available. Massage and exercise fingers during work breaks.
  • Ensure every worker is aware of the dangers by providing health and safety training, especially in the winter months to prevent injuries from wet, icy floors, frostbite and tripping over objects in dimly-lit areas.
  • Check weather forecasts and take extra safety precautions if severe weather warnings are expected, and if necessary suspend work if conditions look too dangerous.
  • Where possible, provide drying rooms for wet clothes and hot water to wash.
  • Ensure water supplies do not freeze and gas heaters are ventilated to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Check equipment and scaffolding bolts are tight, protected against freezing temperatures.

Posted on Tuesday, November 24, 2015

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