When you were young, did you believe in Santa? Then later, wish you could be him. Living in Lapland, eating cookies and having a magical flying reindeer as a pet does seem pretty exciting doesn’t it? Well, we’ve got news for you; your job in construction is pretty similar. Granted, it doesn’t involve flying across the globe delivering presents, and you don’t get to wear the hat and boots (except the safety kind,) but it still comes close. Riding a crane high enough it could be mistaken for a sleigh; working your magic on projects that delight the world around you and even though climbing down chimneys doesn't happen that often, you do frequent buildings where serious hazards are present.
A construction job can be exciting, even exhilarating but without following the proper health and safety practices, construction workers can fall victim or stress, ill-health or even death. As the country gears up for our festive season – be constructions answer to Santa, and avoid a health and safety ‘Nightmare before Christmas’
1. Sort your scaffolding for the winter season
• Don’t cut corners; your scaffolding should get your scaffolding designed by someone who has the relevant qualifications
• It should be robust and stable and erected on a firm surface. Don’t rush, to complete your work completed before the festivities.
• If it is going to be up for a while, make sure it is regularly inspected, and plan for inspections after alterations or extreme weather. With many predicting a very cold winter season ahead, this is imperative.
• Protect yourself, other workers and passers-by from incomplete scaffolding
• Once erected, all staff should receive the relevant training from a qualified professional
• Keep your scaffolding tidy and free from danger to limit injury to the public
2. Avoid the winter aches and pains with ergonomically correct portable and high-powered tools
Tools are supposed to make your life easier but not if you suffer pain in the process. Do you find yourself reaching out for the same hammer that puts a strain on your hand or those pliers that always slip from your grip? You may not know this, but by frequently using poorly designed tools, you could develop such conditions as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, white finger, and trigger finger. In the winter when it’s cold some arthritic conditions raise their head, so try and plan ahead.
3. Don’t leave your electric power tools out in the rain or snow
A no brainer really, water and electricity don’t mix. To avoid a disaster on your construction site, make sure you protect your tools from the elements. Failure to do so could lead to some horrific consequences for you or those around you.
4. Keep your bottom toasty when working at lower levels
We didn’t want to mention the elephant in the room, but here goes… We know that in the winter, sitting down when you are working at lower levels can leave you with a frost bitten bottom, so construction workers squat or kneel instead. Our tip is to wear some flannel undergarments to avoid feeling the cold. A firm stool would help to avoid straining your back, knees and waist.
5. Beware of buried obstructions
Freezing ground conditions can make spotting underground hazards such as electrical lines and water and gas pipes harder to spot. Take extra care during the winter season to avoid any risk of safety to construction staff and the wider public. Continue to use caution even when underground lines are marked in the case of error, and be prepared to hand dig when it's getting close.
We know that these tips only scratch the surface of some of the dangers out there in the world of construction, but we hope these tips with help you avoid having a health and safety ‘Nightmare before Christmas’. With an alarming one death a week still happening across the UK, these tips are more important than ever before. For more construction related advice and guidance keep a look out on the APS blog