As Winter officially begins, the nights draw in and the leaves have all fallen to the grown, for in door workings this may go unnoticed. However, for our trades men and women working outside, it means extra thermal layers, warm flasks, and extra safety precautions. As the temperatures reduce and the chance of high winds, storms and snow raise the risks increase. Here are Cardinals Steel’s top tips to staying safe and working through this Winter.
Daily Risk Assessments
Employers should carry out daily risk assessments for their employees and know when to stop work. Even if you are self-employed safety should be paramount with the suitable workwear to guard against the cold. All employees on site should know the risks that have been identified and process to follow.
Check The Weather
Stay up to date with the weather forecast and make sure you are prepared for the day ahead. Additionally, wind speeds in excess of 23mph (Force 5) will affect a person’s balance and work should stop on roofs. These should be checked daily, and process be put in place.
Snow & Ice Removal
Almost seems obvious but some ice can go unseen and cause serious injuries and accidents. Ensure all ice and snow has been removed before accessing the roof. The use of salt is ideal for this enabling you to be confident in it’s removal.
Slips, Trips & Falls
All roofers should have a protection plan in place. Many roofers use rooftop guards to prevent accidents and allow for safe access to unforeseen maintenance. However, incidents in place can occur, for instance changing direction or method of access such as moving a ladder. Ensure, you check your footing and ladders for winter hazards such as black ice.
When working outside the 3 layer principle is the ideal method to follow:
- Base Layer – Transportation – This layer transports away moisture from the skin and helps regulate body temperature. Sweat goes through the next layer of clothing so the base stays dry.
- Mid Layer – Insulation – Mid layer garments such as a jumper have insulating properties which trap the warmth the body generates.
- Outer Layer – Protection – This is the protective layer against external influences and weather conditions. For instance, a waterproof jacket for rain or a windproof or down jacket for protection against cold.
Also, wear a hat due to 30% of body heat is lost through the head. Although, make sure visibility, hearing, or the ability to wear a safety helmet is not hindered. Lastly, gloves should be worn when the temperature drops below 4°C.
Many roofers are advised to keep and maintain a hydration plan as part of their daily plan. However, as the temperatures drop, and the warm flasks come out this can easily be forgotten. It is important to remember caffeine has a mild diuretic effect. Although, research suggests tea and coffee won’t increase dehydration they can contribute to it. This is due to the fact liquid is being consumed however, it isn’t as hydrating as other drinks. Therefore, leading to a decline in hydration.
Storage & Protection
Throughout the day and at the end ensure your products and tools are safe and protected from the elements. If left out they could be damaged by moisture leading to rust. Furthermore, any unfinished projects should be covered and protected. Again, to ensure no moisture or water saturation damage.
Cold Exposure Symptoms
When working outside you need to be aware of the symptoms this can cause and know when to stop and take a break. Symptoms can include any of the below and medical advice needs to be taken if they occur:
- Heavy shivering
- Uncomfortable coldness
- Aching outside of daily pains
- Severe fatigue
- Drowsiness and/or euphoria
Cold weather also increases the risk of hand-arm vibration syndrome sometimes abbreviated to HAVS. This occurs when using vibratory equipment such as drills, nails guns and even hand tools, such as hammers. It can cause changes in the sensation of the fingers which can lead to permanent numbness of fingers, muscle weakness and, in some cases, spells of white finger.
We manufacture and supply steel roofing sheets and roof cladding, for across the UK. High quality corrugated steel sheets for various sectors including, commercial, residential, agricultural, and industrial. Offering a 30 year guarantee, we have roofing Sheets available from 1m up to 12m in length or make bespoke to the job. Contact our friendly team today to answer all your questions and help you, help your customer and their individual needs.