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Winter on a construction site.

Posted at: 11:00pm , 20 Sep 2018, by HM Construction
Winter on a construction site.

I know nobody wants to discuss winter in September, but it will be with us before we know it so here is a few hints and advice to help make winter that little bit easier.

Winter is the time that all tradesmen dread. Working outside in the wind, rain, snow and hail with the UK weather as it is pretty unpredictable.  Construction experts who have been in the industry for years never take anything for granted when it comes to preparing for the winter. 

Most construction companies have procedures they follow as they prepare for the winter, but that doesn’t mean their policies are comprehensive. One forgotten detail could lead to a serious accident and possible injuries. Instead of taking any chances, it’s best to review as many of the best ways to prep construction sites for winter work as possible.

 

Prepare for a few days off:

As part of your preparations for winter work, you need to plan for some unexpected days off due to icy conditions, high winds, rain or bad visibility. Snow days always puts a stop in the works, but given the chance, most employees will happily make up the time at weekends.

 

Keeping warm and dry:

It is essential that all employees keep warm and dry to avoid illness. It can happen that the weather gets so cold during the winter that not even a well-prepared employee is able to handle the conditions for a full shift. The answer is to set up small warming stations throughout the job site to give workers a place to go to avoid cold-related medical issues. We ensure that there are microwaves and kettles on site for them all to have warm food and cups of tea. Even in the colder months, it is still essential to stay hydrated. Your body needs fluids to keep everything working and to keep you warm.

 

Safety:

Make sure that any icy areas are covered well with grit or salt to prevent any unexpected injuries. Salt helps to melt the ice whilst providing grip to walk on. Avoid any water spillages to prevent ice occurring.

Sand bags are good to help avoid flooding in areas. Tarpaulin can help to keep areas dry in wet conditions. Many different wood types can become slippery when wet, so keeping it dry in wet conditions can also prevent accidents happening.

Remember, stay warm, dry and hydrated.

 

Time:

Allow extra time to travel to sight. The weather conditions can cause accident if people do not drive correctly.

Winter construction cold-weather operations are not just about safety. While most construction tasks can be carried out with enough strategically placed warming equipment, some operations such as concrete and masonry-related work, painting and drywall finishing  can take much longer and even fail if the proper precautions are not taken.

For example, according to the Portland Cement Association, if concrete is to reach necessary strength levels, it cannot be allowed to freeze for the first 24 hours after being poured or placed. If the weather is not too severe, sheeting the concrete can ensure the required temperature and moisture necessary for curing. If not, then supplemental heating systems or enclosures must be brought in to maintain the integrity of the concrete.

Structural considerations are also a factor in a great deal of masonry work, including bricklaying. The same principle that applies to concrete applies in masonry. The material in this case mortar mix must be kept from freezing and at warm enough temperatures during the initial phases of installation to perform properly.

While nothing is going to fall down if paint or drywall finishing materials are exposed to freezing temperatures, product quality enters the picture, and these coatings can take a long time to set up or dry. As far as joint compound or drywall mud is concerned, temperature and humidity have everything to do with drying time. In the worst-case scenario, it can take days for joint compound to dry sufficiently so that crews can move on to painting or applying other wall finishes.

The same goes for paint. When faced with low enough temperatures, the life of the paint could be reduced and leave it susceptible to issues like mildew growth. The rule of thumb with any cold-weather material installation: Contractors should follow manufacturers guidelines to ensure that the finished product functions as expected.

Fingers crossed this winter is not as wet as last year. However, nobody will say no to a couple of snow days again.

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