How to Get Your Construction Site Ready for Snow and Winter
Winter conditions in Alberta can start in October and continue through to April. Weather and environmental conditions during this time create hazards. Pre-season planning is an important aspect of handling winter conditions. Planning is the best way to ensure risks such as minimizing cold exposure and protection from blowing wind. A risk of injuries to workers may include: slippery ice or compact snow, poor driving conditions, falling snow and ice from overhead, blowing snow reducing visibility and inadequate lighting. Here are some important factors to consider when getting a site ready for winter.
Roadways, walkways and parking areas should have adequate drainage to avoid water accumulation and be properly marked so they are easily identified during heavy snowfall. Permanent or immovable objects are to be marked with reflective barricades or stakes to allow for visibility. In work areas where snow drifts can occur, a snow fence should be installed. Installing a snow fence prior to freezing is recommended as it becomes more difficult to install once the ground is frozen. Grit or sandboxes can be placed in centralized locations for easy access. Cords and cables need to be away from walkways and raised off the ground or buried if possible. All buildings and trailers used during winter should also be assessed. Proper lighting, snow removal, handrails and other safety features are to be taken into consideration to ensure the workers safety.
Lighting and Heating
With less sunlight in winter it’s important to have lights set up on the jobsite. In permanent work areas such as laydowns and office areas, permanent lighting may be more practical. In temporary work areas, portable lighting may be more suitable. Paying attention to the placement of lighting is critical as is placing barricades around lights. Gas powered lighting, heaters and generators should be placed so exhaust does not enter enclosed spaces and all equipment must be properly grounded. Heating and temporary power should meet with designated standards.
Before the winter season arrives, any unnecessary excavations should be filled. Consider snow that will be removed from the excavation and where spoil piles will be placed. If space is available, the excavation should be bermed to create a physical barrier preventing vehicles and equipment from entering the excavation. If berming is not possible, high visibility markers should be placed at a distance from the excavation.
Identify what equipment will be required for snow removal. Equipment such as graders, front end loaders, bobcats, snow and leaf blowers, shovels, brooms and ice scrapers or chippers may be needed. As snow removal equipment creates slippery surfaces, after the snow has been removed, grit should be placed soon after the snow removal has been completed. Snow disposal areas can be determined according to the site. Temporary snow storage areas can be created where snow can be compiled and transported to a centralized snow dump. To avoid flooding during spring melt, snow disposal areas should not be placed on high ground.