Working outdoors can present a number of risks that indoor workplaces do not present. One particular threat is extreme weather conditions. Hazards can be presented by weather conditions such as hot and dry conditions, wet conditions, thunderstorms, cold conditions and even wind.
Construction workers in NSW recently had their hands full when a bout of windy weather hit the state. WorkCover NSW issued a reminder to all businesses to ensure that workers were kept safe during these windy conditions.
We are fortunate that we can look at weather conditions and make the necessary safety arrangements beforehand especially in an industry as risky as construction.
According to the General Manager of WorkCover’s Work Health and Safety Division, John Watson, windy conditions can be a major risk factor for any outdoor worksites but especially construction sites because there are a variety of materials, equipment and machinery that can become a cause of injury in windy conditions.
He also reminded the public of an incident which took place in 2008 when 3 bricklayers on a Botany construction site were almost injured when the wall they were constructing collapses due to strong gusts of wind. The workers were forced to jump 1.8 metres from a scaffolding due to the weather.
One of the reasons wind is so problematic for construction workers is because big gusts are so unpredictable, Watson pointed out. Some of the incidents that can result include flying objects injury workers, workers falling from heights, increased risk of structural collapses etc.
The following article was posted on SafetyCUlture.com.au detailing WorkCover’s warning to outdoor workers,
“Wind speeds are often stronger and faster at heights so operating cranes or using powered access platforms need additional caution to prevent over tipping,” said Mr Watson.
WorkCover also reminds workers to secure any lose equipments such as cladding roof sheets or tools that can be lifted by the wind.
Workers are advised to stay safe by following these tips:
Wear eye protection to protect eyes from dust and debris.
Examine structures to ensure they will remain standing during strong winds
Secure objects that can become airborne.
Wear fall protection
Don’t stand near structures or stacks of materials
Watson also explained that businesses need to conduct a site specific risk assessment and ensure adequate planning and preparation to ensure all hazards are controlled. Employers should also inform workers of any weather conditions that may present a threat, that they are aware of.
Elevating work platforms shouldn’t be utilised during extremely windy weather. And workers should be trained on safety during various extreme weather scenarios, this includes the dos and don’t of working in heavy rain, extreme wind, tornadoes, hurricanes etc.
Workers also need to be made aware of the importance of utilising Personal Protective Equipment to protect their eyes, ears etc. from injury during windy conditions. Fall protection is also an aspect of construction safety that is always important but even more so when there is the possibility of windy weather prevailing.
Windy conditions can play a significant role in accidents, particularly at construction sites. Wise site controllers take the weather into account before it becomes a safety issue.