Winter construction accidents are, unfortunately, all too common. It would be impossible to eliminate the risks completely, but there are proactive steps you can take to mitigate hazards. Here are some ways to avoid the most common winter accidents on a construction site.

Icy and Slippery Surfaces

Slip and fall accidents can occur whenever surfaces are wet or covered in ice. These can lead to bumps and bruises or more serious injuries, including abrasions and even broken bones. Protect yourself by investing in a high-quality pair of winter boots. Also, take the time to assess every surface before walking on it, and change your gait when things feel slippery. Short, slow steps will help reduce your risk of falling, as well as your chances of being injured if you do slip.

Frostbite and Hypothermia

Construction workers are outdoors, often for hours at a time, in bitter weather conditions. Frostbite and hypothermia can easily occur if you are unprepared. Frostbite is damage to a specific area of the skin, while hypothermia happens when the body is unable to regulate its temperature. Extreme cases of frostbite can cause permanent tissue damage or even amputation. Extreme cases of hypothermia can lead to death.

Protect yourself with heavy-duty winter clothing that is appropriate to your environment. Dress in layers and make sure that your feet and hands are well-protected. In very bitter weather, face coverings are also essential. If you start to feel unusually cold, stop what you’re doing, move into a heated space if possible, and add more layers. Keep an eye on your coworkers as well since one of the effects of hypothermia is an inability to feel cold. If someone does develop frostbite or hypothermia, it is a medical emergency. Call 911 and keep the person warm and dry while you wait for help.

Construction Equipment and Vehicles

Driving or operating heavy machinery is a very common cause of winter construction accidents. Muddy or unfinished roadways, like those under construction, can become extremely hazardous. If you operate any equipment or drive any vehicles on the construction site, get extra training on how to handle icy, snowy, or slippery roads. Also, reduce the risk of being hit by a passerby through the use of cones, barricades, brightly colored vests, and other warning materials. Remember that you will be harder to see in a snowstorm or other weather event.

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