Working outside in the winter can be challenging (and even dangerous) in many areas of the country. Northern regions will often experience below-freezing temperatures and snowfall, while it’s not uncommon for southern regions to experience wetter conditions, frost and even ice.
As a leader in safety, James Hardie is constantly looking for ways to help protect crews on a job site. Try using these eight winter jobsite safety tips to help your crews navigate the season’s cold and wet conditions.
Protect scaffold planks and walk boards from freezing so they don’t get slippery.
One of the easiest ways to prevent scaffold planks and walk board from getting slippery is to cover them with tarps or plastic at the end of every workday. At the very least, flip planks on their sides as frost can form on horizontal surfaces overnight.
Wear proper boots for stability and slip resistance.
Winter boots should be equipped with soft flexible soles that resist slipping and have deeper treads that prevent snow buildup. Avoid raised heels which can slip off the back edge of a plank and lead to a tumble. Lastly, be sure your footwear is the appropriate weight for conditions as needlessly bulky boots can cause trips and falls.
Use sand on jobsite paths for extra traction.
Sand is an inexpensive and effective way to help prevent slipping when it’s spread along jobsite paths. Store the sand in a bucket sealed with a lid to keep it dry and spreadable. Use caution with salt or other chemical de-icers as they may inadvertently damage your building materials.
Dress in layers to better handle temperature fluctuations.
Wind and sun can cause temperatures to drastically fluctuate and dressing in layers will help you stay more comfortable. Dressing too warmly will produce sweat and result in wet clothes. So instead of relying on just one heavy coat or coveralls, wear bibs, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a flannel or sweatshirt, a lighter jacket, and a neck gator. It’s also a good idea to wear a base layer of moisture-wicking fabrics to help disburse sweat and keep you comfortable.
Prevent ladder accidents by increasing stability.
Always use the spur plate side of a ladder’s shoe when working on frozen or snowy ground. If it’s an option, dig a small hole in the ground with a hammer claw for each foot/spur plate of the ladder to rest in. If you have any doubts about frozen ground or the stability of your terrain, you should consider delaying work until conditions improve.
Purchase different types of gloves to protect fingers.
It’s a good idea to have a variety of gloves to help you accomplish different tasks while staying warm. For example, wear heavy-duty mitts or choppers when moving around wet equipment and material, and save the thin, tighter-fitting gloves for working with small nails or tiny parts. Wet fingers are especially susceptible to frostbite, so be prepared to change gloves early and often.
Keep sun protection top of mind.
While sunscreen and sunglasses may seem strange to keep in the winter arsenal, don’t leave home without them. Generally, sun rays are not as powerful in the winter as they are in the summer, but snow can reflect and magnify sunlight causing sunburns and eye damage.
Use the off-peak winter months to prepare or upgrade your safety plan.
The very best fall protection gear, first aid kits, and personal protection equipment (PPE) doesn’t do any good if no one knows where it is, how it works, or when to use it.
To help keep you and your crew safe, James Hardie developed the Siding Installer Safety Program as part of the Safety 365 Campaign from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). The program offers customizable and comprehensive safety plans developed specifically for siding installers. It can be downloaded for free at: https://www.jameshardiepros.com/safety