Brrrrr. Baby, It’s cold outside!

If you believe the Old Farmer’s Almanac, that’s a tune we may be singing more than once in the Boston area this month and next. The forecast throughout January and February includes “rainy periods, turning warm,” as well as weeks that are expected to be “sunny and very cold,” and several days with precipitation alternating between rain and snow. Then, just to keep it “interesting,” the sun appears and we can look forward to a few days of “mild” or “warm” temperatures. If you’re used to living in Boston as we are, you’ll probably just look out your window each morning as you prepare for the day!

Keeping Construction Site Projects on Schedule in Winter

Building in the city during uncertain weather conditions can be challenging, to say the least. Ice and snow are not exactly conducive to top performance. Working in rain is not fun! Human bodies, as well as tools and equipment, take a beating from adverse conditions.

Does that mean construction comes to a standstill in the city until spring? Not at all. Actually, the weather in Boston is seldom responsible for a complete construction site slowdown, but just as it is wise to know the hazards of summer heat and humidity, building professionals must take the necessary measures to keep workers and equipment in top operating condition during the worst of the winter weather.

Construction site safety is an ongoing concern, but there are additional cold weather safety tip considerations: The freeze and thaw cycle can be a problem, and awareness is key to accident prevention and personal health.

Dress and Act for the Conditions

The City of Boston has some helpful tips about construction work safety in winter weather. The primary need is to dress properly. The secret is layering. Several layers of lightweight clothing that can be stripped off as daytime temperatures rise are better than one bulky jacket that might become uncomfortably warm or impede movement.

Remember to wear hats, scarves, gloves and cover noses and mouths in extreme cold in order to prevent lung damage, frostbite and hypothermia. Don’t forget wool socks and boots either! Tale frequent breaks and stay hydrated. It’s as important in the winter as during the summer. Interestingly, caffeine is not recommended. No matter how warming a cup of java might seem, the city recommends that workers forgo caffeine, because of its dehydrating effect.

It is also important to move differently when the ground is wet, cold, or frozen. Surfaces should be cleared, if possible, before work begins, but cold ground and slippery surfaces are always problematic. Tools and equipment also need special cold-weather care. Allow engines time to warm up; keep hand tools clean and dry; protect stored materials as much as possible from the elements. And, while it is important to keep hands warm, working with gloves and mittens is not easy.

Remain Vigilant and Stay Safe

Working in enclosed spaces during the winter can also be hazardous, particularly when heaters and generators are used. Carbon monoxide buildup is deadly, so it’s vital to monitor motorized equipment to assure air quality.

Finally, knowing how to handle an emergency is crucial. Accidents can happen anytime, but slips and falls on outside ice can have devastating results. Know the warning signs of cold-related ailments, and don’t hesitate to call 911 if you suspect that a worker’s shivering, slurred speech or drowsiness are cold-related.

Preventing problems is your best line of defense, as well as the best way to assure on-time completion of your construction site project, despite the weather.

Now, if we could only know what spring has in store for us in Boston! Whatever that may be, remember that New England Building Supply, with a location in the heart of the city, is here to serve all your construction-related needs.

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