- Don’t try to outsmart Mother Nature.
- If you don’t already have a safety plan for winter, develop one. Everyone should be on the same page when severe weather hits.
- Offering training alternatives before sending crews home during bad weather can help keep workers engaged.
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Get ready for changing weather
We don’t always know what’s on Mother Nature’s mind. We do know, however, that she does whatever she pleases. When bad weather throws a wrench in a day’s construction plans, there are many factors to consider in keeping your workforce safe. Now is the best time to create a plan of action to keep crews safe when bad weather strikes in the transition from summer to fall and beyond.
Don’t test the limits
First things first, don’t test Mother Nature. As a construction manager, you should be checking the forecast daily to prepare for bad weather. That said, sometimes the unexpected happens and plans have to change rapidly. Know the safety risks associated with each type of severe weather and react accordingly. Don’t try to keep working if there is lightning or extreme rain or wind, as those can quickly turn dangerous for your workers.
The “who” is just as important as the “how”—workers should know who to turn to for guidance or questions.
Develop an action plan
The best time to plan for severe weather accommodations is before you actually need to make them. Your plan doesn’t have to outline every “what if,” but having a few of the basics to pull from will keep processes running smoothly in the event of bad weather. Here are some things to consider:
Who will communicate the action plan?
If there is a safety manager on site, they should be prepared to handle decision-making and communication with staff. If you don’t have a safety manager on site, designate a superintendent or project manager to make those judgement calls and alert the crew. In addition to tapping someone to make the final call about when project work pauses, ensure somebody is responsible for properly storing equipment. This way you’ll keep it safe and avoid expensive replacements.
How will information be communicated?
Do you have a group chat set up with each worker’s cell phone number? Will each manager alert their crews separately or will one individual handle all communication? The “who” is just as important as the “how”—workers should know who to turn to for guidance or questions.
If your company specializes in new builds, there may not be a safe destination constructed when bad weather hits.
Where will workers go?
Basements, stairwells, and internal rooms are all relatively safe during bad weather. But if your company specializes in new builds, there may not be a safe destination constructed when bad weather hits. In that case, make sure your crews know where to go and how to get there. Will workers go to a trailer, nearby convenience store, or back home? As long as driving conditions are okay, sending workers back home can be the best option.
Your severe weather plan should also touch on what to do with tools and equipment. Keeping expensive machinery dry and functioning properly will only aid safety when it’s time to go back to work.
Train during rain
Sometimes the weather can be bad, but not bad enough to take emergency shelter. If rain prevents workers from completing outdoor projects, think about other options before sending workers home for the day. Turning to training and development opportunities can help keep employees engaged even when they’re not performing essential work duties. Considering 63 percent of employees are disengaged at work—which leads to higher turnover—finding ways to engage employees is key. If they’re sent home too often, they may begin looking elsewhere.
Using a mobile-friendly training solution is a quick and easy way to ensure workers are up to date on certifications.