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Safety Checklist for Winter Construction Sites

Safety Checklist for Winter Construction SitesWhile we often think of winter as the “slow season” when it comes to construction, a significant amount of construction work is still being done. Unfortunately, winter is a dangerous time for construction workers for a variety of reasons. Heavy precipitation, significant drops in temperature, and fewer daylight hours can all cause safety issues.

At Buttafuoco & Associates, we often work with injured construction workers, and our construction accident attorneys in Northern New Jersey have seen firsthand the dangers that an unsafe construction site can pose. I’ll tell you what to look out for below.

Common Winter Construction Accidents

The most common winter-related construction accidents include:

  • Slip and Falls:

    Winter weather often leads to slick surfaces from ice, snow, and sleet. At Buttafuoco & Associates, we often see winter slips and falls due to slick and icy surfaces, and construction sites are no different.

  • Cold Exposure:

    Working outside for extended periods in cold weather can decrease your body temperature leading to hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot. Cold temperatures can also cause numbness and loss of coordination, which can lead to even more accidents.

  • Vehicle Accidents:

    Even dirt pathways for construction vehicles can become slick, and poor visibility in winter weather can lead to accidents among equipment drivers.

  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:

    In an effort to prevent cold exposure, a construction worker may operate gas-powered machinery or vehicles in enclosed spaces, leading to carbon monoxide exposure.

Employer Checklist: How to Prevent Accidents

While individual workers are responsible for some of their own safety, which might include wearing boots with no-slip treads or sufficient clothing for extended exposure to the cold, these are often not enough. A construction accident lawyer serving Northern New Jersey will tell you that an employer has a responsibility to maintain a safe working environment.

According to a paper published in Industrial Safety, there are a number of practical suggestions, ranging from design of the work area to on-the-job practices, that employers can implement to keep workers safe from a slip and fall during the winter months.

If you notice that your employer is not observing these safety precautions, don’t hesitate to point them out.

Preventing Slippery Surfaces

  • Make sure walkways are clear of debris
  • Sufficiently shovel and salt walkways, especially those with high traffic
  • Regularly use guard rails and other safety equipment such as harnesses when working at heights
  • Use materials with good friction properties
  • Make sure surfaces, working areas, and walkways drain sufficiently and have a proper drainage system
  • Regularly remove ice and snow from entryways, walkways, working areas, and machinery
  • Salt or sand these passages on a regular basis
  • Use sufficient signage to warn workers of potentially slippery surfaces

Maintaining a Safe Working Area

  • Insulate surfaces where possible or minimize contact to prevent heat loss from cold surfaces, such as metal
  • Prevent winds and cross-breeze in working areas
  • Insulate the ground in work locations where workers are stationary
  • Make sure the ground is solid when lifting or moving heavy objects

Safe Conditions Working at Heights

  • Only use stairs and ladders made for use in the cold
  • Regularly inspect ladders to be sure they’re in good working conditions, especially anti-skid devices where they contact the ground.
  • Use safety barriers and cover up all holes
  • Use safety belts and harnesses

Equipment and Tools

  • Use equipment and machinery designed for use in cold temperatures
  • Properly store equipment away from the elements
  • Pre-warm machinery before using
  • Insulate handles and controls
  • Use handles and controls designed for use with gloves
  • Repair and maintain machinery indoors

If you were injured due to your employer’s negligence in providing safe work conditions, a construction accident attorney may be able to help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’d like to learn more about whether your employer’s behavior qualifies as negligence.

When to Contact an Attorney

Whether you have been injured by direct exposure to the cold or a slip or fall on your job site, it’s often worthwhile to contact an experienced Northern New Jersey construction accident lawyer. Not only can an accident directly cause injuries, but it may also have indirect effects including lost wages and extended pain and suffering.

Construction companies are often negligent when it comes to their workers’ safety; this makes construction one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Get in touch with Buttafuoco & Associates for a free consultation regarding workers compensation to help get your life back on track.

Call us today at 1-800-NOW-HURT.


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