Winter is one of the most dangerous times of year for construction workers. Rapid weather changes, low temperatures, falling snow and ice represent just a small sampling of the problems construction workers face on the job each and every day. When unpredictable winter weather hits, make sure your site stays safe with these routine checks and procedures.
Understanding the Common Causes for Accidents
Over the years, the most common causes for accidents are under-trained employees who don’t let their manager know they don’t have the proper training, using incorrect tools, not inspecting the scaffold before mounting, not following procedure and goofing off.
Long way up and long way down is the phrase used on a scaffold. It is a long way to be lifted up but it is an even longer way to fall back down. Most injuries are caused by falling off the scaffold and can even result in death. You can die from a fall of only 11 feet. If a 200-pound man were to fall from that he would die instantly from hitting the ground with 1,500 pounds of force.
Follow Maintenance Procedure
Before you mount the scaffold, inspect it to be sure the boards are sound and nothing is visibly damaged. Never work on scaffolds outside if the weather is stormy or windy, which is one of the most common causes for accidents.
When employees continue to work in rain, sleet or snow, they put their lives at risk. The boards can quickly become slippery and easily cause slips and falls.
Train Your Employees
It’s the supervisor’s job to keep their staff trained, so if you have not had the complete training you need to speak with your manager as soon as possible. Do not try to use the scaffold or any other equipment without the proper training.
Inspect the Worksite
Start your day with an inspection of the site to be sure that all snow and ice has been eliminated from surfaces where employees will be passing through or working. Alt each area and continuously inspect the site throughout the whole day to ensure that no ice has built on the scaffold. Remove icicles that pose a safety hazard or tape off areas under them if they cannot be removed. Check all heaters, train employees on the safety use of heaters and generators, and keep combustible materials away from all heaters.
While the complete structure of the scaffold will be built to withstand the weight of snow and ice, this may not be true during various stages of construction. If you have received a heavy or sudden snowfall, talk with your manager to check that the partial structure can hold the extra weight of the snow (especially if rain or ice is involved) without posing any danger to the employees.
Proper Weather Wear
Frostbite is also a major issue in cold climates or temperatures dropping. Always wear the correct clothing for the weather. In the winter, it is best to wear non-slip shoes or boots but NEVER wear snow spikes or chains. If you fall not only could you hurt yourself with them, but also a coworker near you.
Keep the Workplace Clean
Avoid slipping and falling by making sure you keep your space clean by keeping your tools and equipment out of the way and put up.
Make sure the scaffolds have guardrails to prevent falls and to hold onto when being lifted and let down.
Locking Scaffold Wheels
Always lock the scaffold’s wheels and do this while it is firmly on the ground.
Take Your Time
As an employee, it is important to slow down and never rush or cut corners when it comes to your work. If the easy way out is taken, it usually leads to injuries and accidents. Never sacrifice speed for safety.
Safety is not only one employee’s job; it is everyone’s job to make sure the workplace and other employees are safe. It is the manager’s job to keep employees up to date on training and protocol, but workers should always check and be sure they have all the training they need to keep everyone and their work-site safety hazard free.
Make sure you site is protected from danger with help from the dedicated professionals at Allied Insurance Brokers. Our scaffold insurance program keeps you covered every step of the way, providing your business with bottom-line improvements to keep you ahead. Find out more about how our scaffold insurance programs can better your business and call today!
*Allied does not deem this blog entry as a complete and thorough listing or overview of the above topic, and does not recommend it be primarily relied on. It only highlights some common issues and resolutions. For a thorough overview, please contact Allied’s Risk Engineering Division.