Cold Weather Safety
As we gear up for the cold weather this winter, let’s remember to always put safety first. It’s important to recognize conditions that could lead to prolonged exposure to the cold. Double-check the weather before heading outside. Wear proper clothing for the cold, wet, and/or windy conditions; this includes layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions. It’s recommended to learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illness and injuries and what to do if they occur. Symptoms include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue, and confused behavior. Call for emergency help, if these signs are observed.
While working remember to take frequent breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow your body to warm up and it’s best to schedule work for the warmest part of the day. This will also help you to avoid exhaustion or fatigues, as energy is needed to keep muscles warm. When on a break, stay hydrated by drinking a warm, sweet beverage such as sugar water or a sports-type drink and avoid drinks with caffeine. For meals, eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes for prolonged energy. Create a buddy system; work in pairs so they can monitor each other for signs or systems of cold weather illness or injury.
In addition to personal safety measures related to cold temperatures, we must worry about how snow will affect the jobsites and prepare for tasks like snow shoveling or clearing off roofs. Chuck Rosenthall our Safety Director discusses the impact of snow on our jobsites: “Heavy snow fall on construction sites creates several challenges to safety and production. Before we can access jobsites, we need to remove snow and ice from all access and egress locations. To prevent slips, trips and falls Tocci always clears snow and ice from walking surfaces and applies de-icer as quickly as possible after a winter storm.” Moving all of the snow from a site can be a strenuous activity, particularly because cold weather can be so taxing on the body.
Here are some tips for staying safe while snow shoveling:
- push the snow as you shovel, it’s easier on your back than lifting the snow
- don’t pick up too much snow at once, use a small shovel or half a large one
- lift with your legs bent, not your back
- keep your back straight when lifting
- take it slow and pace yourself
- take frequent breaks, don’t work to the point of exhaustion
- stay hydrated
- dress warmly and cover hands, feet, nose, and ears as much as possible
- be sure to help out your elderly neighbors
And here is how to remove snow and ice safely from your roof:
- Use a snow rake for pitched roofs to remove snow. This should be done right after snow storms to avoid ice dams
- Keep all ladders, shovels and roof rakes away from utility wires
- Do not climb on pitch roofs
- Start from the edge of the roof and work your way across to the middle
- Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to the shingles or other roof covering. Plastic shovels are usually best as metal tools may cause damage to the roof
- Remove large icicles carefully if they’re hanging over doorways and walkways. Consider knocking them down through windows using a broom stick
- To remove ice dams, fill a nylon stocking with calcium chloride ice melt, and place it vertically across the ice dam so that it melts a channel through the dam.
- Avoid using a ladder in snowy and icy conditions and get professional help if you cannot safely reach the roof
For more safety tips, check out the American Red Cross Top 10 Cold Weather Safety Tips.