Are Construction Sites More Dangerous in The Winter?
14 February 2019
The winter weather brings a number of hazards to those working outdoors. Unless these hazards are effectively managed, they could result in increased accident rates on construction sites during the winter months.
Construction is one of the Most Dangerous Industries
Every year in the UK, the construction industry sees more workplace accidents than any other. Construction sites are hazardous environments by their very nature, with people working at height, using heavy machinery and working with power tools. Loose cabling, pipework and building materials also present trip hazards, with water, paint and other substances posing a slip risk.
When you combine all of these factors, it's no big surprise that workplace accidents in construction are so common.
Add cold, wet, icy winter conditions into the mix and this could be a recipe for disaster. Many construction roles typically involve spending long periods of time outdoors, meaning the harsh, unpredictable winter weather can have a significant impact on these workers.
Winter Hazards on Construction Sites
Winter weather will only add to the everyday risks faced by construction workers. Snow, ice and rain can increase the risk of a slip, trip or fall accident. High winds can also be dangerous, particularly to those working at height or those handling large objects that can easily catch the wind (such as corrugated iron).
Working in very cold temperatures can pose a real health threat to workers and this risk needs to be managed. If a worker has cold extremities, they could easily lose their footing or lose the dexterity of their hands. If a worker remains too cold for a prolonged period, then there is a risk of hypothermia. Aside from the danger that hypothermia poses in itself, its symptoms can also be very dangerous in a construction environment, as clumsiness, confusion and loss of coordination are some of the first signs of hypothermia.
HSE Guidelines to Outdoor Working in Cold Weather
To combat the increased risks faced by construction workers and others that work outdoors during the winter, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides some guidelines.
The HSE suggests that employers should:
- provide workers with the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment)
- provide mobile facilities where workers can warm up and have a hot drink
- schedule rest breaks more frequently
- consider delaying certain work to a warmer time of the year (where possible, providing this doesn't compromise on safety)
- provide training to educate workers on how to spot early signs of cold stress.
If You're Injured on a Construction Site in the Winter
If you have been injured while working on a construction site during the winter, in an accident that wasn't your fault, you may be entitled to make a personal injury claim for compensation. If your employer or those responsible for the work site have not taken the necessary steps to mitigate the risks posed by winter weather then this could also be grounds to support your claim.
At Co-op Legal Services, our Personal Injury Solicitors can assess your claim for free to help you to understand how likely your claim is to succeed, and we can also deal with most construction accident claims on a no win no fee basis.