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PCCA Journal|4
Quarter 2011
onstruction work does not
stop for “Old Man Win-
ter”. Here are some tips to
keep you and your crews
working safely during the
winter months.
Two of the biggest concerns during
the winter months are frostbite and
hypothermia; they can cause injury at
much higher temperatures than people
realize. For example, exposed skin can
start to freeze at around 28 degrees
Fahrenheit, so dressing appropriately is
critical. Around 700 people die each year
from hypothermia. A few symptoms of
hypothermia include confusion, lethargy,
slurred speech, loss of consciousness,
and coma.
Slips, trips, and falls account for more
than one million injuries each year, with
a great deal of these occurring in the
winter months. Construction sites always
pose a risk for slip, trip, and fall injuries,
but that risk is multiplied when
you add snow and ice to the
already hazardous conditions.
Everyone should wear appropri-
ate footwear and watch their
One of the most important
things you can do on or off the
jobsite during the winter is dress
in layers. Remove layers during
the day to prevent overheating.
Always wear the most wind-
resistant layer on the top, and
wear a hat or a hardhat liner
to prevent heat loss from your
head. Gloves are an important
item in winter dressing. Make sure you
pick gloves that are not only warm, but
ones you can also work in. In the past
few years, the glove market has grown
tremendously, with many advances in
performance and comfort.
Understanding what the meteorolo-
gists mean when they say “the wind
chill today will be...” can help you pre-
pare for the day. The Wind Chill Index
is the temperature your body feels when
the air temperature is combined with
the wind speed. It is based on the rate
of heat loss from exposed skin caused
by the effects of wind and cold. As the
speed of the wind increases, it can carry
heat away from your body much more
quickly, causing skin temperature to
drop. When there are high winds, seri-
ous weather-related health problems are
more likely, even when temperatures are
only cool.
The wind chill chart below shows the
difference between actual air tempera-
ture and perceived temperature, and the
amount of time until frostbite occurs.
Cold weather may also put more of a
strain on your body. Make sure you pace
yourself while performing strenuous
work, and remember that your body is
already working hard just to stay warm,
so don’t overdo it. Your body may need
a little more fuel during the winter; your
best bets are foods like whole grains and
high-quality carbs such as sweet pota-
toes, pumpkins, and squash.
By taking these precautions and plan-
ning ahead, we can make sure we are
around to see “Old Man Winter” next
Phillip Metcalf is the safety director for
Trawick Construction, a Quanta Services
Company and an award winning infra-
structure contactor with projects across
the United States.
Working in Winter Weather
By Phillip Metcalf