Ways To Stay Warm During Winter Construction
By Dale Allen
Working in the construction industry during winter can be brutal. Even those lucky enough to work inside partially completed structures do not have the same comfortable environments most employees enjoy. Try some of these tips to stay warmer during winter when working on construction sites.
Dress in Layers
Layering helps keep warmth in and cold out. Thermal undershirts and socks are a good starting point. Cotton is a good material choice in drier weather and for damp or wet conditions, use synthetic blends. For workers that move from outdoor to indoor work and then go back outdoors, removing a layer or two while indoors will prevent overheating. Several light layers are also a better choice than one heavy layer. Bulky apparel can make movement difficult — which only contributes to discomfort. Also, if you are working in an area that requires arc flash protection, all of your winter gear should be properly rated.
Becoming cold and wet can make construction work miserable. Look for outerwear that provides protection from rain or moisture in the air. Again, use the correct materials next to your skin to wick moisture from your body. Carry an extra pair of socks and thermal underwear in case you become soaked. Changing into dry clothing will make a huge difference in staying warm.
Make use of hard hat and glove liners. While you do not lose more heat through your head than any other exposed body part, keeping your head covered will improve overall warmth. Your face and chest are more sensitive to temperature changes. Hard hats do not provide any real protection from the cold — invest in a good liner that also covers your neck, if possible. Gloves liners are an excellent choice for warmth and function. Thin liners will help retain heat without interfering with dexterity. Be sure to carry a spare pair of gloves and liners, especially if you are working in wet conditions.
Drink the Right Fluids
Obviously, alcohol is not a good choice for a construction site. Alcohol does nothing to keep you warm — it has the reverse effect and can be harmful. Drinking warm soups, broths or sugary liquids is the best choice for warming up. Avoid excess caffeine and stay hydrated. Finally, workers that must be outside should take frequent warming breaks. If work trucks are accessible, they can offer shelter from wind and rain. Employers should provide some form of temporary shelter for employees without other options. Portable warming tents are one solution. Be alert to signs of frostbite or overexposure. The initial signs of frostbite include a waxy appearance of the skin and numbness. Early signs of hypothermia include shivering and discoloration of the lips and fingers. Confusion and disorientation indicate a more serious level of hypothermia. Take action immediately if frostbite or moderate to severe hypothermia is detected.
Dale Allen is the national service manager of Rankin, one of the nation’s leading temporary climate solutions companies.