8 Construction Safety Tips for Working in the Cold Weather


Anthony Devito August 29, 2017

Whether you are working in a mine, the oil fields, farming or any other type of construction during the winter, there are going to be some unique safety concerns with keeping warm.  In my experiences of working road construction in the cold Michigan winters to constructing mining facilities at high altitude, I can honestly say I wish I had this list back then.

welder construction worker winter cold weather keeping warm

Almost every construction company nowadays has a strict focus on safety and unfortunately most of the rules, regulations, tips and advice lack new innovations.  I recently left the construction industry to work fulltime on heated apparel, and while that is my expertise it is not the main focus of this article, but it is not something that should be overlooked either.  

Keeping warm keeps your body performing at its peak, which means higher productivity and less likely to be injured, so read these tips and stay safe and warm this winter.

1. Work indoors when possible

This is going to vary depending on the job, but take a look at your work and see what you could possibly do indoors.  If you have an enclosed area use portable heaters.  This is not always going to be possible but look at your work environment and assess if it is feasible, economical or even necessary.

2. Dress Accordingly 

Sometimes it helps to bring extra layers to work, but keep in mind the work you are doing as sometimes you may need less bulk to avoid limiting your mobility.  When keeping warm it always necessary to stay dry so make that a priority when selecting gear.

Tip: Sometimes when companies move you around from location to location, it may not be common to have the work gear necessary to keep warm, and it can be expensive to obtain.  Talk to a superintendent about having the company provide the proper work attire.  If this is brought up as a safety concern you could save yourself some money.  During the winter working at a mine, our company gave our entire staff Carhardt jackets as a safety incentive.

3. Utilize New Technology- Battery Operated Heated Clothing

When it gets really cold we often turn to the bulky options, with multiple layers that tend to limit mobility and can sometimes lead to more hazards.  Heated clothing is a great option to limit bulk.  You can utilize less bulky clothing and activate the heat as needed.  The one caveat is that it is battery operated, and no battery will last forever.  Keep this is in mind and follow some of our best practices for using heated apparel to keep you safe.

  • Always have spare batteries.  The number one mistake you could make is wearing less clothing because you are depending on the battery to last.  If the battery dies you could be in a worse situation.  So pack a spare.
  • Know where the power sources are.  If you have to use a spare battery, charge your other battery.  It may take a little longer to charge your battery than it does to discharge your battery, so plan accordingly.
  • Toggle the heat on and off to save battery life.

Heated Clothing options

Heated Jackets

Heated jackets are the most popular product on the market as they are very efficient at warming your core and keeping your blood circulating to you extremities.

Coat Heaters

Here at Torch Heated Apparel we specialize in our patented Coat Heaters, that allow you to utilize the same technology used in heated jackets, but in the jacket you already have.  Simply install our battery operated heater into your favorite work jacket, move the heat pads around for optimal comfort.  You can also transfer the heat pads to other jackets when needed.
Coat heaters are also a great option when you are unable to wear a safety vest and require a high visibility jacket that does not come with the heated function.

Heated Gloves

Most heated gloves are not satisfactory for construction work as they are bulky and limit dexterity.  They are also expensive and when you are replacing your gloves every week it might not be the best options.  But a great way to use heated gloves is to buy a heated glove liner and wear your construction gloves over those.

Heated Socks or Insoles

Heated socks and heated insoles are a great way to keep your feet warm.  Heated socks are a great option but with the amount of washing socks require, it may not be the best option for daily use.  We recommend heated insoles, most are trim to fit into your work boots and are controlled with a remote control that looks a lot like a key fob.  With insoles you can also transfer them from boot to boot, so use them for work and then ice fishing on the weekend.

4. Hand warmers

Hand warmers are also a great alternative to keeping your hands warm.  The downside is that when you are building something you are most likely using your hands, so holding onto a hand warmer can be unproductive.  We like to use hand warmers on breaks. Hand warmers are also great because they are relatively inexpensive, but don't forget they are only one-time use, and restocking could get spendy.

5. Take breaks indoors whenever possible

If you are working out in the cold with little to help the blistering cold it is going to be important to take breaks indoors or in a heated truck to get your body warm again.

6. Keep moving. 

You body does a great job at producing heat and keeping warm blood flowing to your extremities when you are active.  So keep moving when possible.

7. Drink and eat warm food. 

Use a canteen and pack a hot lunch, maybe some hot soup or coffee.  See if you can make a microwave accessible to the crews and don’t forget you can always heat up your food the old fashion way, in the engine of your truck.

8.  Additional Safety tips provided by OSHA

  • Recognize conditions that can lead to prolonged exposure to cold.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of cold-induced illnesses and injuries and what to do if they occur.
  • Danger signs include uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech, clumsy movements, fatigue and confused behavior. If these signs are observed, call for emergency help.
  • Wear proper clothing for cold, wet and windy conditions, including layers that can be adjusted to changing conditions.
  • Take frequent short breaks in warm, dry shelters to allow your body to warm up.
  • Try to schedule work for the warmest part of the day.
  • Avoid exhaustion or fatigue, because energy is needed to keep muscles warm.
  • Use the buddy system - work in pairs so one worker can recognize danger signs.
  • Drink warm, sweet beverages (sugar water, sports-type drinks) and avoid drinks with caffeine (coffee, tea, sodas and hot chocolate) or alcohol.
  • Eat warm, high-calorie foods such as hot pasta dishes.

If you are interested in getting any heated clothing that is great for construction work, the best options are Milwaukee, Dewalt and Bosch.  Each brand has a quality work jacket. The batteries provided with each jacket has its ups and downs.  They use the same batteries as their power tools, which most people complain about their size.  But they are very convenient when you have multiple batteries available.  

Here at Torch Heated Apparel we offer a unique spin on the same functionality as the leading brands, but our heating elements can be installed in the working jacket that you already have.  The heaters are also transferable so you can use it in a thinner, more flexible jacket and transfer it to any other jacket.  You can even take it home and let your husband or wife use it.

 




Anthony Devito
Anthony Devito

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