Be Prepared for Construction Industry Severe Weather Hazards
We’ve had some pretty severe weather conditions over the past few weeks here in the UK. Storm Caroline came roaring in on high winds, blanketing many parts of the country with snow. Some areas just enjoyed a little light snowfall that dusted the fields and trees with a Christmassy frost, while other areas had several inches dumped in the space of a few hours! However much snow fell in your area, it makes driving a hazard, even in the places that had the lightest snowfall. It’s all moisture on the ground and, once the temperatures drop, can turn into ice, making driving conditions particularly dangerous.
Severe weather hits the construction sector more than most others as many of us need to work outdoors. This means facing more risks than usual in what is already quite a risky business. While strong winds can affect vehicles, making it harder to keep the car on track, they are a particular hazard for those who work at height. This is because the wind speed at height is very often stronger than it is at ground level where buildings and trees can act as a windbreak, making the gusts less severe. However, once you’re working at height, with nothing to stop the force of the wind, being blown off your feet is a possibility.
Pay close attention to weather forecasts and the news when the weather is bad as this is the best way to get up to date information and warnings. You may hear that severe weather conditions are either under a “watch” or a “warning”.
· WATCH – this means that conditions are present for severe weather to develop. The weather event has not yet occurred (and may not) but the possibility is high. During a severe weather watch, carry on monitoring the weather forecasts and news and take time to make sure your response procedures are in order and that key workers are notified.
· WARNING – a severe weather warning means that a severe weather event has already developed and has been sighted or is approaching your vicinity. The warning is an indicator that a response plan should be initiated to ensure the safety of workers.
Severe weather events are capable of causing serious damage to property, especially on construction sites and at properties that are undergoing refurbishment and repairs. The aftermath of a severe weather event can mean that workers face unknown hazards such as electrical hazards or the release or spill of hazardous chemicals. To ensure safety following a severe weather events, it’s vital that no workers enter the area until the area has been inspected and a risk assessment carried out to ensure that the area is safe.
Taking the time to respond to weather events is vital for construction workers, construction company owners and managers to make sure that conditions are safe and that workers do not face undue hazards when carrying out the tasks at hand.