How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Construction Site?

How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Construction Site?
Posted in: Why Weather Matters
By AcuRite Team
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How Cold Is Too Cold for Your Construction Site?

Every contractor knows that weather can play a crucial role in the safety and efficiency of a building site. When weather is not considered a factor in the management of a construction project, not only will employees be put at risk, but the timing and success of the project will be challenged.

Contractors who have operated in a particular region may be well aware of the local weather conditions and know how to incorporate such conditions into the planning of a project. However, it’s never a bad idea to keep in mind the challenges or risks that weather can cause at a construction site.

OSHA, Cold Environments and Cold Stress

The United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the best place to start for guidance on weather conditions.

Unfortunately, under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) of 1970, OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments (unlike their lightning and wind standards). However, employers do have a duty to protect workers from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm in the workplace.

One of these hazards is cold stress. Outdoor workers exposed to cold and windy conditions are at risk of cold stress, which occurs by driving down skin temperature, and eventually, internal body temperature. As wind speed escalates, air temperature feels even colder, increasing the risk of cold stress to exposed workers. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related illnesses and injuries may occur, and permanent tissue damage and death may result. Types of cold stress include trench foot, frostbite, and hypothermia.

Winter construction site

How to Prevent Cold Stress

Employers can take measures to avoid the damage caused by cold stress. These include training and monitoring.

Training

Employers should provide training for employees long before construction has begun on the site:

  • How to recognize the environmental and workplace conditions that can lead to cold stress
  • How to prevent cold stress, the symptoms of cold stress and what to do to help those who are affected
  • How to select the proper clothing for cold, wet, and windy conditions

Monitoring

Employers need to monitor any and all factors that could create risks on the construction site and make adjustments if needed:

  • Monitor workers’ physical conditions throughout the day.
  • Monitor weather conditions throughout the day and schedule work during the warmest parts of the day.
  • Utilize engineering controls such as radiant heaters to adjust the temperature if possible.

How AcuRite Can Help

Local TV news or weather websites — which typically rely on regional data taken many miles away from a construction site — do not always correctly represent the local weather information specific to the location of the construction site needed for employers to provide a safe, compliant workplace for employees.

AcuRite provides actionable, personalized weather information, specific to one’s own home or jobsite. Via advanced mobile technology, AcuRite’s Atlas + Access offers internet connectivity, allowing users to access their AcuRite sensor data from anywhere in the world using a smartphone, computer or tablet (if your jobsite is solely reliant on Wi-fi, then our 5-in-1 Weather Station with Direct to Wi-Fi Display will have you covered). The technology also allows users to customize alerts and receive notifications when conditions change, potentially requiring attention. That means you can keep an eye on your build site and the safety of your employees, no matter where you are.
AcuRite Atlas at construction site

References
https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/windchill.html
https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/beprepared.html
https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/cold.html https://www.osha.gov/as/opa/cold_weather_prep.html

September 15, 2020
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