The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians is still campaigning for health and safety guidelines regarding extreme weather. However, site managers do need to complete a risk assessment and take measures to minimise any identified risks and protect workers from adverse weather.
The discomfort that workers experience when exposed to cold temperatures for long periods of time leads to decreased work performance and concentration levels, and contributes to cold-related diseases and injuries.
In cold conditions, the body preserves heat around the major organs, and less blood is supplied to the extremities. This results in fewer white blood cells to fight disease, leaving workers more susceptible to winter illnesses such as cold and flu, sore throat, norovirus and asthma. In addition, blood pressure is increased, placing more strain on the heart, with the risk of a heart attack.
As well as the proper engineering controls and personal protective equipment, a complete solution includes the use of specialist equipment to provide temporary heating and humidity control, to protect workers' health. A specialist should recommend the ideal system.
For more information on how to address cold working conditions, download our full white paper.
A risk assessment addresses both personal and environmental factors. If the work cannot be postponed until the weather improves, introduce temporary heating and protective equipment, and allow frequent breaks indoors.