Winter’s coming and it’s time to take extra measures, including the use of UltraShore trench boxes, to ensure that your workers are safe! Regardless of your geographic location, winter weather means changes to your job site safety protocol. In some locales, this seasonal change may be subtle. But in other places, winter brings significant environmental and temperature changes that require safety precautions that are entirely different than the precautions you take in summer months.
Trench safety is critical on job sites all year-round, but winter months call for special protection and action. Keep your workers safe by taking universal weather safety precautions and by reviewing cold weather safety education for your workers. Trench shielding needs can be impacted by rapid or significant changes in weather and temperature, and soil conditions should be reevaluated regularly.
While summer construction site safety typically revolves around hydration and the avoidance of overheating, the winter season presents unique challenges. Extreme cold, high winds, and icy surfaces equal an increased risk of injury. First, ensure each on your team is appropriately equipped for the weather. Require weather-appropriate clothing, along with standard safety gear, with an aim to keep workers warm and dry. Moisture steals body warmth quickly and can lead to frostbite and hypothermia. Train workers to know the signs of these dangerous winter ailments. Second, keep an eye on weather forecasts and be prepared for what’s coming. Additionally, hydration remains important in cold winter temperatures—consider hydrating your team with warm water and other non-caffeinated beverages.
Of course, a layer of snow can be beneficial to the worksite environment in the winter months, insulating the soil from freezing, and slowing changes in compaction. Freeze-thaw activity can change the soil and therefore the work environment. Evaluate the job site daily for any changes that may impact worker safety, such as ice buildups, excessive snowpack, shifts in trenching supports or downed wires or tree branches.
Protecting your workers in the trenches takes planning, specialized equipment, and sometimes even a new workforce. But because hundreds of workers are injured annually on excavation jobs, and dozens are killed annually, this extra effort is worth it. Find the best options for protecting your unique winter job sites – including hydraulic vertical shores and UltraShore trench boxes – throughout our website.