Working in icy conditions on a construction site is challenging, but it is possible.
In this post I will take you through 5 things you can do to make your site safer when you are faced with working in icy conditions.
1. Monitor the Weather Forecast
Forewarned is forearmed. Check the weather report regularly and identify if an Icy weather plan is required for the following day.
It is good practice to record actions taken in the site diary as a record, should an individual report an ice slip.
Farmers weather forecasts tend to be the most accurate. Personally, I use the Farmers Guide website by putting site postcodes in to predict which sites are going to be needing a cold snap reminder.
2. Have an Icy Conditions Plan
Assess where people will be required to walk or drive.
The route from the parking area to the welfare, the welfare compound itself and the pedestrian routes on site are areas which will definitely be used.
Additionally, identify the plots which require accessing the following day.
3. Eliminate or Reduce Icy Areas
Refer to your Icy Weather Plan for tomorrow and grit those areas in the late afternoon.
By gritting these areas before the temperature reaches zero degrees, the area will either not freeze or not freeze as hard. This point is backed up here and has instructions on how to grit effectively.
Keep grit stocks on site are high during the winter and early spring.
4. Pro-Active Water Management
Look for leaks and Free Flowing Water.
Fix leaks, empty outdoor handwash stations in a safe place and bund free flowing water. If the water cannot be bunded, then barrier off the area that will freeze and prohibit access. Also remember that the compound water supplies need to be insulated to ensure there is warm running water available at all times. The site cannot legally open unless warm running water is available. However, it is worth remembering it is acceptable to use the facilities in a plot.
5. Prohibit Working in Icy Conditions at Height
Defrost working platforms and roofs before work can start.
Although the practice of flipping boards on general access scaffold is commonplace, the ladder which is used to access the work must be defrosted before an individual uses it. The condition of the working platform must be assessed before it is stood on.
It is unacceptable for operatives to be skating round a working platform to flip the boards. Working in icy conditions should not commence on scaffolding or roofs until the temperature is above zero and rising.
Am I liable if I Use Grit When Working in Icy Conditions?
Much like the first aid myth, there is an assumption that somehow the Principal Contractor will be liable for injuries sustained in areas that they don’t grit. This leads to the practice of not gritting anything. This is not a responsible control measure when working in icy conditions. Whether you grit or not, you are liable for injuries on the site you control. In a personal injury claim, an individual that slips and sustains and injury would be entitled to a payment for damages because you have not gritted the area they slipped on. If you had gritted it, they may not slip, therefore no claim. If the area is gritted and they still slip and sustain an injury, the amount of damages awarded is likely to be less as you have done all that is reasonably practicable to control the risk of slipping on ice.