Working outdoors can present a number of risks. One particular threat is extreme weather conditions such as wind. We are fortunate that we can look at weather conditions and make the necessary arrangements beforehand especially in an industry as risky as construction. Windy conditions can be a major risk factor for any outdoor worksite but especially construction sites because there are a variety of materials, equipment, and machinery that can become a cause of injury in windy conditions.
Working at heights is especially risky in high winds because the lack of shelter exposes workers to stronger gusts that can throw the worker off balance. The further the distance to the ground, the greater the likelihood that a fall will be fatal.
When working above the ground, unsupported structures can collapse. High winds can pick up sparks from fires or blow tools, loose materials and debris around, endangering workers as well as bystanders and pedestrians.
The following guidelines can help ensure the safety of those on your worksite.
- Monitor weather conditions continuously. Do not schedule work at elevations on days where high winds are forecast.
- Support partially built structures regardless of the weather conditions and make sure walls are adequately braced.
- Secure scaffolding and other temporary structures so they cannot be blown over.
- Secure traffic control devices so they don’t blow over.
- Keep a clean work site. Don’t leave cones, signage and other loose materials laying around and unsecured. A gust of wind could pick up a scrap of material and send it flying.
- Wear eye protection to keep dust, debris and other foreign particles from blowing into the eyes.
- Make sure that your hard hat is securely fastened and cannot be blown off your head.
- Use extreme caution when handling large signs and stop/slop paddles, as these can act as a sail.
- Use taglines when hoisting loads with large flat surfaces.
- Cease all crane operations until wind speeds return to acceptable levels.
- Conduct a site specific risk assessment and ensure adequate planning and preparation to ensure all hazards are controlled.
Weather is a major factor when determining when a task can or cannot be done on a construction site. When high winds are going to be present, plan accordingly. There will be some tasks you will need to avoid all together, and others that can be done if extra safeguards are put into place.