As a company Blauch Brothers takes great care to ensure worker safety and take’s pride in an excellent safety record.
There are many safety hazards in the construction industry, no matter the time of year. Our company is careful to observe some best practices in order to ensure our worker’s safety. How we manage to do that depends on the season and location. In the summer and on warmer days, we focus on protecting workers from the sun and heat. During the winter we must consider extreme cold, high winds, and often, a heightened chance of slipping and falling.
Taking basic precautions and improving education on winter safety dangers can greatly reduce the risk of workers becoming ill, getting injured, or even worse, dying.
- Limit exposure to the elements. When the wind and snow are blowing and temperatures are obscenely low, it can be hard to reduce exposure to workers. The human body isn’t made to be outdoors in these elements for long periods of time, so we try to schedule outside work in shorter duration. Sometimes breaking up larger projects into smaller tasks.
- Keeping track of weather forecasts. A worst case scenario is that a blizzard blows into town. Our foreman watch the local weather and check the National Weather Service so as not to be caught off guard.
- Provide a warm break area. Outside work is necessary for the construction industry, but workers need a place to take a break from the elements and warm themselves. It can be a heated trailer or more finished area with portable heaters. Portable heaters must be respected supervisors and workers are instructed to follow proper safety procedures with heating devices.
- Discourage coffee. We all may feel like they need our coffee, but beverages with caffeine can increase workers’ heart rates and make them feel falsely warm. Instead, we make sure workers have water available however it is left up to personal choice.
- Require proper gear. Workers need to have the right clothing for severe weather, including boots, heavy coats, gloves and hats. We require all workers to wear clothing that will keep them warm and dry to prevent hypothermia and frostbite. Also, shoes must have nonslip soles to prevent falling.
- Review work sites everyday. Before work begins, supervisors review the area to ensure no new hazards have formed while workers were away. Common hazards are snow and ice accumulation or downed power lines and trees.
- Remove snow and ice. Workers don’t need to deal with snow and ice while they work in addition to extreme low temperatures. Before work is started on a site, we ensure snow is removed, salt or sand is put down and large patches of ice are chipped away. It may be a hassle, but making these efforts will greatly reduces the risk of injury. Kitty litter is also a great way to make paths and walkways safer by improving traction.
- Inspect and prepare vehicles. Before heading into the cold season, all work vehicles are inspected to determine if they are fully functioning.and emergency kits to are present in all work vehicles.
- Educate workers on the signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Even when employers do everything they can to protect workers, issues can still arise. Supervisors and workers need to know the symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite so that if anyone shows these signs, they can receive immediate medical attention.
- Listen to your crewmen as well as supervisors. This may be the most important point a company manager MUST do. When a safety or workplace issue is brought forward it should be not only heard, but after further investigation action SHOULD be taken to correct or mitigate the risk to employees.