Build Safe in Winter Weather
Post frame building construction lends itself well to winter weather building, as concrete pours are minimized to just a minimal amount around building columns. Once columns are poured, time for full speed ahead – or as much full speed ahead as can be garnered in frigid weather.
Prior to my lovely bride’s motorcycle accident (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2015/10/when-life-changes-in-the-blink-of-an-eye/), she and I helped her brother erect his 36’ x 48’ post frame garage/shop – installing steel roofing on a 5/12 roof slope in sub-zero temperatures in January. Oh what fun!
Back in my M & W Building Supply days, I recall near-horror stories from Jim Betonte’s crew as they assembled a ski resort pole building in mid-winter: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/2014-winter-olympics/.
Here are some winter building tips from National Framers Council’s Mindy Caldwell:
As you consider day to day hazards with regard to winter weather safety, a recent article from EHS Today suggests “using the hierarchy of controls to eliminate and minimize winter hazards can reduce risk and the potential for injuries.” While it’s not possible to eliminate low temperatures or substitute warmer weather, there are changes that can be made to minimize risk of accidents. For example, wearing ice cleats instead of work boots and using enclosed aerial lifts instead of ladders can reduce slips and falls. The article also suggests a variety of simple engineering controls such as wrapping the handles of metal tools and using tarps to shield workers from the wind.
Consider reviewing this information with your employees regularly. While OSHA does not have a specific standard for working in cold weather, employers are still required to identify hazards and provide a safe workplace. OSHA’s requirement to provide potable water to employees (see 1926.51(a)(1)) is also applicable in cold weather as the dry air affects hydration.
OSHA provides more specific recommendations on its winter weather web page. This guidance includes information on staying safe while clearing snow from walkways and rooftops. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has also recently revised its information on protecting workers in cold environments. Learn more about cold stress on the CDC website.
Mike the Pole Barn Guru adds:
Regardless of weather conditions, always err towards caution side when building, lives can be saved and one might just be yours!