Your construction site could face an
extra suite of hazards with the onset of winter. Here's how to identify and
deal with them promptly.
Slips, trips, and falls
Wintry weather increases the risks of
wet, slippery, and icy surfaces that cause slips, trips and falls. This is when
scaffolding, ladders, stairs, work platforms, and walkways can be extra risky
because of the conditions.
These accidents may lead to joint, head,
or back injuries, for example, but they are preventable. Follow these steps to
reduce the likelihood of injury:
- Ensure high foot
traffic areas are clean and dry
- Ask workers to
wear boots with good grip, supportive soles, as well as waterproof clothing,
winter-grade lined gloves, and beanies
clothing is a must, particularly when it's foggy
- Wipe muddy boots
or shoes before climbing scaffolding
rescheduling tasks such as those which need high visibility or working at
heights to days with less fog and frost
- Emphasise safer
winter working in training and regular toolbox meetings or via your online
workplace safety app, if you use one.
And just a word about making scaffolding
safer, South Korean researchers are leveraging blockchain as an information
management tool for scaffolding. The system stores and verifies information via
a smart contract and could help minimise safety risks. You can read the full study here.
Protect against winter colds
It pays to practise good hygiene to
prevent illnesses such as a winter cold, flu (or the coronavirus) coming onto
Best practices to deflect these common
winter illnesses include:
- Place hand
sanitisers at entry/exit points and other high traffic areas on your site
- Encourage people
to sneeze into their elbow rather than their hand
- Clean the amenities
block and workrooms regularly
- Stress the good
hygiene message with posters in high-traffic areas
information with your workers about the protection a flu vaccine and COVID-19 boost shots offer.
Being chilled or wet won't automatically
mean your workers will get a virus. However, they will be more susceptible if
very tired, stressed, or have allergies with nose and throat symptoms,
Wind and rain
Another risk – year-round - are strong
winds, such as unexpected gusts that could unbalance those working at heights
such as on a raised platform or roof, may also be a danger. Harnesses,
handrails and fail-arrest systems help, but even better if you can postpone
work until the wind abates.
Extended time spent in the cold and wet
could elevate workers' risks of chilblains and even trench foot. Even worse, it
can lead to hyperaemia, when the affected area becomes swollen, blistered,
painful, and could become gangrenous.
Minimise this worst-case scenario with
- Rotate your
workers and tasks, so they're not left in the cold for a prolonged period
- Ensure they have
regular breaks to warm up and keep hydrated, such as with hot drinks in a
- Ask them to
bring a spare set of clothes, just in case they get sodden on site.
Cold weather increases the risk of RSI
Repetitive strain injuries are
potentially debilitating. They can happen when muscles are cold, so less
flexible, meaning workers risk strain from overuse. Blood circulation is also
reduced if their body or hand temperatures are low. This increases toxic
by-products to build up in muscles adding to risks.
Suggest these six physio-endorsed stretches for tradies to
help workers prepare for the chilly weather.
Managing your risk profile well for
winter risks on your construction sites takes forethought and commitment.
Meanwhile, compulsory workers' compensation insurance for your employees adds
an extra layer of protection, but such policies can vary widely. At a minimum,
it will cover:
- A portion of the
injured workers' wages while they're unfit to work
- Workers' lost
earnings if they're forced to work less due to the injury
- All treatment
costs, such as doctor's fees, medications, and hospitalisation
- Costs of
rehabilitating the injured worker.
Public liability insurance
Public Liability insurance covers
personal injury to people who are not your employees and sustain injury due to
your negligence. This is often included as part of a Construction Works policy.
Public liability insurance covers damage
to third party property and injuries caused to the public as a result of
activities of construction workers.
We can help you find a cost-effective,
customised policy for your construction business as well as guide you on better
This content is created and provided by Finnigan Investments
(Australia) Pty Ltd trading as OneAffiniti on behalf of Austral Risk
Services, and is for commercial purposes. Any financial product advice in this
content is provided by Austral Risk Services AFSL No. 244369. This material is
general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your
objectives, financial situation or needs. Accordingly, before acting on it, you
should consider its appropriateness to your circumstances.