Depending on where you live winter can create harsh conditions to work in. Working at height becomes even more perilous when snow falls and ice forms. While we would advise not to work at height in these wintery conditions, there may be a situation in which you will have to. For emergency repairs, for example, or for getting the snow of a roof. In these situations you will need to be extra careful at height. Wintery conditions can be the source of additional slip, trip and fall hazards.
In this blog article we will give you important tips about working at height in wintery conditions.
Safety first, always
Do you (or your co-workers) know what to do when a fall protection system is iced up? Are you aware of the dangers caused by unseen ice patches?
With freezing weather conditions new, risky factors arise while working at height. It is important that those who have to enter a working area at height know the additional dangers and safety measures. Supplementary training may be necessary to ensure work is executed as safe as possible.
When wintery weather circumstances, like snow and ice are part of your location’s climate, adjust your rescue plan to the wintery conditions. You need to be able to reach someone hanging in suspension quickly, but snow hills and ice spots can be major obstacles to do so.
To work in cold conditions a person needs to be dressed warmly enough, this means layering. Make sure to wear waterproof boots, gloves and clothing if you have to work on a location covered in snow. When your clothing gets wet change into dry clothing as soon as possible. The cold can have severe effects on people, so watch out that you don’t get too cold and numb. Take warm up breaks whenever necessary.
When dressed for the winter your work clothing is probably more voluminous than in other seasons. Don’t forget to adjust your full body harness to fit the additional layers.
Adjust your behavior
When you enter your worksite at height, for example a roof, you will get the first confirmation of the conditions. However, the fact that you cannot see ice forming does not mean the surface is not slippery. To safely move about you need to plan ahead. Know where you need to go, what you need to bring with you and if there are any extra dangers to watch out for.
When walking on snow or a possibly frozen surface concentrate on what you are doing, take shorter steps and do not rush. If necessary you can also shuffle along for stability. Try not to carry anything that can cause you unbalance, as on a slippery surface this could easily mean you will trip, or slip and fall.
Don’t take shortcuts
The weather in winter does not lend itself for shortcuts. To help raise awareness of the dangerous conditions of winter weather we put together a poster with tips to stay safe at height. You can download the free poster here, print it and hang it up for others to see. Together you can prevent dangerous fall accidents.