Tag Archives: winterizing

Winter Weather Safety

 

When winter weather strikes, it is important for construction sites to stay active and productive. Bitter cold, snow and ice can cause conditions that are damaging to equipment and could cause personal risk; leading to jobs falling behind schedule. To reduce the chance of injury or downtime, read on for tips to stay safe & to keep your team working at their highest productivity.

 

 

Personal Safety in Winter Conditions

·        Preventing Slips, Trips & Falls

As temperatures approach the freezing point, it is necessary for your company to take the proper steps in preventing slips, trips & falls. Thin patches of ice begin to occur when air temperatures reach the 30s and become dangerous quickly. No matter what kind of construction site you are working on, it is important to always put your team’s safety first.

In the winter months, proper personal protective equipment (PPE), plays a significant role in keeping employees safe. Non-slip footwear is essential in preventing slips, trips & falls & clothing, such as gloves, jackets & hardhat liners allow employees to stay comfortable and warm on site.

Like inappropriate footwear, equipment and ladders create additional job site hazards in the winter months. Avoid hazards while climbing onto equipment by conducting routine inspections for surface ice.  If any ice or snow is detected, clear the surface immediately and be sure your team’s footwear is also free of snow and ice. As always, assure your team is in their fall protection for additional safety.

·        Recognizing Cold Related Illness & Knowing First Aid

Workers can experience serious health complications due to freezing temperatures, preventing sickness in the winter is ideal, but in many situations, cold related illness may still occur.  Recognizing cold related illness, such as hypothermia, frostbite & trench foot, and knowing basic first aid, can be lifesaving on your job site. 

  • Hypothermia

When exposed to the cold, your body begins to lose heat faster than it can produce. This causes your body to use much of its stored energy, leading to hypothermia. Early signs of hypothermia include shivering, loss of coordination, confusion & feeling fatigued. Prolonged hypothermia leads to blue skin, dilation of the pupils, lowered pulse rate & a possible loss of consciousness.

If an individual on your team is experiencing the symptoms of hypothermia please alert the job supervisor and request medical assistance. Move the victim into a warm area and remove any wet clothing, covering with additional clothing or blankets; warm beverages may help increase the victims body temperature. Once the body temperature has increased, keep the victim dry and warm.

  • Frostbite

A loss of feeling and color in cold affected areas can be defined as frostbite. Areas most often affected are the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can cause permanent damage to body tissue and may even lead to limb amputation. Symptoms of frostbite include reduced blood flow, numbness, tingling & stinging, aches and pail waxy skin.

Workers that are suffering with the symptoms of frostbite should immediately find warmth. The victim should avoid using the affected appendage and immerse it in warm (NOT HOT) water. If no warm water is available keep the affected area warm with body heat – do not rub or massage the frostbitten area and do not expose to heat, as it may cause additional damage or burns.

  • Trench Foot

Also known as immersion foot, trench foot is an injury caused by exposure to wet and cold conditions over a prolonged time. Trench foot can occur in temperatures up to 60°F if the individual’s feet are constantly wet. This injury occurs because wet feet lose heat at a higher rate than dry feet and to prevent heat loss, the body constricts all blood circulation to the victim’s feet. Symptoms include discoloration, numbness, lower body cramping, swelling, blisters and bleeding under the skin.

To care for trench foot, remove the victim’s shoe or boots, as well as their socks. Dry the victim’s feet and be sure to avoid walking as it may cause additional damage & seek medical attention.

Preparing for Harsh Weather Conditions

With the change of season, it is important to keep an eye out for the health and safety of yourself & other employees. Taking breaks in heated areas and proper hydration are essential to winter safety. Time away from the elements in a heated area should be encouraged in order for employees to stay dry. Breaks are also a great location to check for the sign of cold related illness. For information on providing your job site with a heated break area, click here.

 

Now that you know the dangers of winter conditions & how to prepare for them, you will be better able to stay active and productive in the winter months. For further preparation we recommend keeping an updated calendar and having a set breaking system to keep your employees safe.

10 Things to Know When Winterizing Equipment

Winter is quickly approaching and, as such, it’s time to start thinking about seasonal equipment maintenance and the necessary steps to take to protect your machines from the cold. Here are some useful tips to winterizing equipment:

1. Use weather-appropriate oil and coolant

It’s a good idea to change your oil before and after the winter season, according to an article published by The Balance. Another important thing to remember is to use the correct oil for your equipment. Engine oil viscosity, the thickness/consistency of the oil, is an important factor when choosing the correct type. A low viscosity oil is an important conduit for faster oil flow.

Typically, the recommended ratio of coolant to water is 50/50, however, in the colder months a 70/30 ratio can be useful in order to prevent water from freezing, according to The Balance article. Having said that, too much coolant can catalyze a situation where the water pump works harder. However, too much water can freeze, so it is a careful balancing act.

2. Remember to clean your equipment prior to storing

It’s important to clean your equipment during the winter months after use and before storage. If dirt, mud and snow is not removed, it may harden and make operation more difficult for future use. It’s recommended to pay particular attention to the engine bay, undercarriage, wheel hubs, brakes and other exposed areas, according an article published on the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.

3. Properly maintain and store batteries for the colder months

If your equipment will be used during the winter months, be sure to verify that the battery’s electrolyte is filled to the indicated level, according to The Balance article. The terminal of the battery should be cleaned of debris and rust to prevent it from slowly draining. Do not attempt to charge a frozen battery as this may cause it to explode.

Although the perfect way to store your battery is debatable, removing the battery for storage is a good option. It is recommended to store the battery in a dry, clean area and to leave it connected to a battery maintainer to ensure it remains charged, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.

4. Protect your tires

Lower temperatures can reduce tire pressure so it’s important to check for the proper tire pressure and to habitually inspect tires for wear and tear. If possible, consider using track-mounted equipment in the colder months versus tire-mounted equipment, suggests the The Balance article.

5. Storing your equipment

Moisture is an important factor when choosing the best place to store your equipment. Preferably, the storage site should be enclosed with a concrete floor versus dirt floor to reduce moisture, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.

Another couple of things to remember when storing your equipment include: keeping the windows of any vehicle cabins cracked and taking rodent resistant measures. Keeping windows cracked will allow the air to circulate in your vehicle and will reduce the buildup of mold and moisture in cabins. Placing a ball of steel wool in the exhaust pipe and air intake openings, while stored, and placing mothballs inside cabins are good preventative measures for rodent resistance, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog.

6. Maintain your fuel tank

When winterizing equipment, fuel tanks should be maintained to prevent condensation inside the tank and fuel lines, according to The Balance article. Fuel treatments thaw frozen fuel filters, liquefy fuel and remove moisture from the lines and tanks. Fuel treatments can be added to both diesel and fuel tanks. It’s recommended to keep a spare filter available, for your convenience when it becomes necessary.

7. Remember to grease

Remember to maintain all grease points on your equipment during the winter months. Properly greasing points on each apparatus will prevent moisture from building and creating damage to your equipment, according to The Balance article. Manufacturers recommend to use low-temperature lubricants during the colder months.

8. Fluids

When winterizing equipment for use or for winter storage, remember to check your equipment’s fluids. If engine oil is thick or sooty, you should change the oil before proceeding with use/storage, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog. Other fluid levels should be checked and topped off when necessary. Anti-freeze levels are particularly important to regularly check.

9. Don’t forget to conduct routine maintenance- whether the vehicle will be used or not

Take advantage of the offseason to address any lingering maintenance issues or repairs needed on your equipment to prevent downtime during the busier months, according to the Stärke Material Handling Group blog. Regular maintenance tasks and routinely examining equipment for potential issues should be retained throughout the season.

10. Monitor diesel exhaust fluid for freezing

Newer equipment tends to use diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). DEF will freeze at 10 degrees or lower, according to The Balance article. It’s important to make sure that there is a way to heat and thaw frozen DEF to keep equipment running.

If you have any questions or concerns about your equipment and or if you need winterizing call the Hugg & Hall Service Department closest to you. Equipping you for success since 1956.