A stiff wind, especially when coupled with chilly or frigid winter temperatures, increases the misery factor sometimes associated with working outdoors. But the wind can be much more than an annoyance. It can actually have life-threatening consequences, ranging from an increased risk for hypothermia and frostbite to the possibility of being blown off a roof while working at heights.
Share these Top 10 Wind Hazard Safety Tips with your workers:
Look up! Never loiter below an unstable wall, stack of material (such as lumber) or anything that could blow over onto you.
Don’t stand between the edge of an elevated surface and an object being carried.
Wear fall protection and whatever specific safety gear is designed to protect workers in your field.
Anticipate strong winds when stepping out of a protected area into an open one (on a boat, for instance).
Make sure all structures you stand on or use (such as wooden steps, scaffolding and ladders) can withstand strong winds.
Tie down any objects that can become airborne, including sheets of plywood and plaster board.
Ensure elevated surfaces such as catwalks and platforms have railings and toe boards to protect workers from falling.
Examine structures covered with tarps to ensure they will remain standing in a storm. The wind can fill a tarp and cause it to pull down an unstable structure.
Ask for help carrying objects that could be caught and sent airborne by the wind, such as sheets of plywood.
Wear eye protection to prevent dust and debris from blowing into your eyes.
Supervisors also need to guard workers against frostbite and hypothermia, a potentially fatal drop in the body’s internal temperature. The risk for hypothermia and frostbite increases under windy conditions.
Here are some safety tips for working outdoors in cold conditions:
Workers should be permitted periodic warm-up breaks in heated tents, break rooms or other shelters. Under windy conditions these breaks should be more frequent.
Workers should be encouraged to dress in loose-fitting layers of clothing that can be added or removed as weather conditions change. It is especially important to keep the head, face, hands and feet warm and dry. Clothing that becomes wet because of sweating must be removed and replaced with extra clothing that workers have brought to work.
Workers should avoid caffeine and cola and drink warm, sweet drinks and soups to stay hydrated.
Workers should receive training on the warning signs of hypothermia, which include tiredness, slurred speech, clumsiness, confusion and abnormal behavior, and be encouraged to report any concerns to supervisors.