Home Contractor's Corner How to stay safe on site this winter

How to stay safe on site this winter

by Jennie Ward

Daniel Redfern, Marketing Manager at Marley, discusses the manufacturer’s new Winter Safety campaign which helps roofers overcome the challenges of winter weather and stay safe on site.

Whilst we might be experiencing milder temperatures in general recently, it doesn’t take much for our weather here in the UK to change from pleasant to inclement – and this can present serious issues for those working on site, especially at height.

And although we cannot avoid what nature throws at us, Marley is urging professional roofers to fully prepare for the difficult working conditions that come hand-in-hand with the winter months, with the launch of its ‘Winter Safety’ campaign.

Know the dangers
Construction sites are hazardous environments by their very nature, with heavy machinery and power tools in constant use and of course, people working at height.

Throw in the cold and icy, wet and windy conditions associated with winter – and importantly, the unpredictability of the weather – and roofers, who are highly exposed on site anyway, can experience a significant negative impact on their health, safety and wellbeing.

However, the good news is that, with a little preparation, the effects of working under harsh winter conditions can be greatly minimised.

Taking responsibility
Daniel Redfern, Marketing Manager at Marley, explained: “As a responsible roof systems manufacturer, Marley has been highlighting on-site health and safety issues for many years, with the winter months presenting very specific situations where advice is needed.

“With roofing contractors working for long periods of time outdoors, often in difficult and dangerous weather conditions, we are committed to providing useful, straight-forward advice, highlighting the risks and showing how to minimise them.”

Prepare to prevent
Preparation is vital for a safe and successfully operational site, but what are the key areas to consider?

Watch the weather: Make sure that the weather forecast is monitored on a daily basis so that any poor weather is anticipated and action, if required, is taken. Essential for roofers, working at height platforms and roofs should be regularly checked for ice. If ice is present, work should cease immediately as this is a requirement of the Working at Height Regulations 2005.

In addition, it is worth checking windspeed with a hand-held anemometer, as recommended by the HSE, to avoid dangerous gusts of wind causing falls.

Keep the heat in: Lower temperatures mean that additional clothing is essential to help counter the impact of cold on the body. Rapid heat loss or reduction in body temperature over time can lead to serious illness and downtime.

Wear at least three layers of clothing – a base layer with moisture-wicking properties to draw sweat away from the body; a middle, breathable layer to help insulate and a good wind/waterproof outer layer, that fits well, allows for a full range of movement and gives good elemental protection.

Wet clothing should be changed immediately, whilst gloves should be worn at all times, especially when using ladders or scaffolding as frostbite can occur immediately if extremely cold metal is touched with bare hands.

Finally, it is essential that hot food and drinks are consumed throughout the day to help keep the body’s core temperature at a healthy level.

Avoid slips, trips and falls: When a surface, such as a scaffolding platform or roof becomes cold, ice can form and present a major slipping hazard, with height only adding to the danger. Such areas need to be treated to avoid slips, trips and falls.

Clearing icy patches with salt or sand improves traction and should be applied when and where needed, whilst extra care should be taken when carrying tools and materials.

Sturdy footwear – such as robust waterproof boots with non-slip soles – should be worn, with warm thick socks for added protection.

Winter win
Daniel concluded: “As well as a host of useful winter safety advice available on our website, we’re also running a competition to win three fantastic Makita heated jackets. There’s the chance to win one jacket each month for December ’21, January ’22 and February ’22.

“All you have to do is visit the Marley website to be entered into our prize draw each month. Good luck!”


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