A steep drop in temperature can cause severe problems for any construction crew. Work may be stalled as equipment succumbs to the frigid elements, but what about the laborers that have to work in these conditions? An employer that doesn’t keep their crew safe during cold weather may be subject to an inspection and costly fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). As we continue this three-part series, an OSHA lawyer will be discussing the ways that you can prepare your construction workers for winter weather.
There is no one simple thing that construction crews can do to protect themselves from winter weather. It will take a mix of training and safety equipment to ensure that workers are prepared. OSHA recommends three layers of clothing to insulate against the cold. They also recommend a hat, knit mask, gloves, and boots. All of these items should be water resistant to prevent cold stress.
Safe Work Practices
The time workers spend in extremely cold weather should be as limited as possible. Therefore, employers should always be up-to-date on the weather so that work days can be adjusted accordingly. If there is flexibility with a project schedule, try scheduling certain outdoor tasks for warmer parts of the day or warmer months even. Relief workers could also be used to ensure that no one is exposed for too long. Finally, always have a plan in place in the event of a severe weather warning, such as a blizzard.
Consult a Professional
There is an important distinction that must be made between OSHA requirements and OSHA recommendations. OSHA does not specifically require that an employer provide winter clothing. However, an employer is required to protect their employees from dangerous work hazards, including extreme weather, that could cause death or serious injury. This can make OSHA compliance seem like a hazy endeavor, which is why it’s in your best interest to consult with our OSHA lawyers to discern where your responsibilities lie in properly protecting your employees.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.