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How To Protect Your Site From Winter Weather Extremes

Posted in: Help & Advice Date: 20 Feb 2017

Having fielded significant enquiries and a host of orders for companies needing winter weather protection, we take a closer look at what your site might be needing very soon.

 

Shorter days, frosty mornings and cold, wet, windy weather; working on a building or construction site during the winter months is a challenging experience, to say the least. It’s usually dark when you’re arriving on the site, and if it’s been a clear night, you’re likely to find an annoying layer of frost covering all your tools and materials. 

And that’s if you’re lucky. It might be you have to start work during a big freeze, with snow and ice everywhere followed by a biting wind and a torrential downpour.

It’s enough to stop anyone in their tracks, but on a construction site that’s working to tight deadlines, it can be the difference between on time completion or costly delays. It can even ruin materials that are expensive to replace.

But although you might not be able to avoid the bad weather, you can prepare for it. With the right planning, you can ensure your construction site is as protected as possible during the winter.

 

Preventing wet and icy accidents

Slips and trips make building sites dangerous at the best of times, but during the winter when there’s frost and ice on the ground, paths and walkways can be lethal. HSE guidelines are clear that it’s the employer’s responsibility to take bad weather into account on their site, stating that procedures should be in place for freezing conditions with action ready to be taken.

Of course, you can grit pathways and keep movement through the site to dedicated walkways, but bad weather is unpredictable and melting ice or rainwater has the potential to cause problems wherever you place paths, with falls being the most common accident on construction sites.

One solution is to lay Tracktiles on all essential walkways and roads, because not only do they provide much needed grip and solid footing across muddy areas, they’re also anti-slip! And because they’re slip resistant to BS EN 7188, you can rest assured that you’ll be following best practice and putting in prevention measures to deal with bad weather.

The heavy duty mesh mat also makes Tracktiles ideal for roads across your site. Water is allowed to permeate through – so you don’t run the risk of any standing water – and as well as protecting the ground underneath, the tough surface of the tiles gives vehicles excellent grip during the winter.

They will stop roads and paths becoming slippery and save time on site too. No-one wants to be pushing vehicles through slushy mud when they’ve gotten stuck!

 

Securing and protecting materials

Health and safety is of course the top priority on site during wintery conditions, but it’s also important to protect building materials too. Frost and ice can damage blocks, brickwork and any other items – whether they’re materials or tools – on your site, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect them and prevent any avoidable loss.

If water gets into and around blocks, it can freeze overnight and make them too heavy to handle the next day. Not only does this prevent workers from getting on with their duties in a timely manner, but it can also cause irreparable damage. As the water expands and contracts when it freezes and then melts, it can penetrate into exposed blocks and brickwork and potentially contribute to structural issues.

The best thing to do is protect any raw materials on the ground from rain water, especially in icy conditions. Hessian sheets are an excellent option to cover large piles of bricks or partially finished brickwork. The material is often used by gardeners because it’s eco-friendly, and the multi-purpose cloth is really easy to just roll over any area. Quick and simple.

 

Coping with excess water

As winter draws to a close and the cold, icy weather finally begins to thaw, potential problems can still remain. The biggest of these is typically all that excess water that tends to be around after freezing conditions warm up.

With large exposed areas on construction sites, there’s plenty of opportunities for frost and ice to form. When this melts, that water must run somewhere, and it’s in your best interests to make sure it goes in the direction you want it to, rather than causing damage and destruction somewhere on site.

Thankfully, temporary downpipes are a very simple and highly effective solution. As permanent downpipe fixtures tend to be one of the last pieces to be installed, these handy plastic sleeves allow you to drain pools of water and direct them to outlets on the ground wherever you need.

Not only does this protect brickwork from water damage, it also means you have the flexibility to add them wherever you need to, which is very important when you have standing water from melted ice that needs to go somewhere before it becomes a problem!

 

Don’t wait for the big freeze – plan ahead now!

There are lots of helpful tricks and useful bits of kit to protect construction sites from bad winter weather, but don’t wait too long to get it ordered and installed. When you do need it, it might be too late!

Being prepared is vital if you want to minimise any down time during the cold season, and that means having everything you need on hand to continue building work as normal during all conditions.

These are just a few simple suggestions, and our expert team at Protec can recommend a number of other solutions specific to your construction site and your current needs. Just give us a call on 0800 834 704 or send us a message here, and we’ll call you back at a convenient time.

Article tags: Health and safety

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