Living and working in Florida we don’t often have to think about snow and freezing temperatures, but we do get some cooler weather and here are some suggestions on how to prepare for it. It’s a good idea to start preparing for colder weather now rather than waiting until we are already freezing. Monitor the weather. Knowing the potential condition of the work environment allows for preparation for changing weather conditions and will help in planning to work effectively. Cold that we are not expecting can be distracting and can create an unsafe mindset.
Most often the mornings are cold and then temperatures warm up throughout the day. From a PPE standpoint, we lose the protection of reflective vests and hi viz PPE because we have them covered up with warmer clothes. Remember, vests and hi viz PPE must be visible on our worksites. Also, hard hat liners (head coverings that meet OSHA standards for consistent hard hat protection) are a compliant alternative to hoodies and other types of headwear. Hard hat liners, cotton gloves that can be worn with the leather work gloves are ways to ensure compliance and comfort. Heat loss from the head accounts for 10% of the body’s heat loss. Another form of heat loss and discomfort is in the area of footwear. Having cold and wet feet can make work life difficult and distracting. Insulated waterproof boots are an asset in colder weather. Staying hydrated even in colder weather, without sweating, is essential. Warm drinks and sports drinks and water are a deterrent to dehydration. Know the signs of cold stress. Even in Florida, hypothermia is a factor when workers are exposed to contrasts in heat and cold. Be aware of the conditions of hypothermia and be able to take steps to correct it. Although we don’t experience the extremes of weather of our northern construction environments, we do have a certain amount of exposure to conditions that create issues that we have to recognize as a hazard. Preparation is the key to prevention.