Weather – Why talk about it?

Actually, we have no control over rain, snow, sleet, wind, lightning or sunshine.  But we can control what happens on our job as a result of the elements.  Some of the biggest problems on construction jobs are caused by wind and lightning. Wind probably causes the most accidents; lightning can be deadly.

Watch out for Wind

Don’t let the wind catch you off guard.  I’m not just thinking of tornadoes but of everyday winds and unexpected gusts.  Wind just loves to pick up anything it can and sail it away.  So when it’s windy, securely tie or weight down supplies and materials.

It’s amazing what a little wind can do.  Some gusts can pick up a 4 x 8 sheet of plywood from the top of a high rise building and carry it several blocks.  Or blow you off a platform. On one occasion, the wind blew empty 10-gallon drums off a 15-story building.  One drum went through the roof of a tool shed.  What would have happened if the drum had landed on you?  You’d have had more than a giant sized headache.

Don’t loiter on the leeward side of un-braced walls, lumber stacks or anything else that can be blown over by a sudden guest of wind.  In many instances, workers have been seriously injured when an un-braced wall or form was blown over on them while they were sitting in its shade during lunch or before starting work.

Lightning Hurts

Every so often we read about workers being struck by lightning.  They usually come out second best. Recently a hook-up man was electrocuted when lightning struck the crane boom while he was holding on to the hook preparing some materials to be lifted.

We all like to keep things moving until we’re rained out.  But when lightning is around, it’s safer to take shelter early.  Very often an electrical storm occurs without rain.  Or a lightning storm precedes the rain.  So if you’re washing down your mixer, or around other projecting equipment or a building, the safest thing to do is to seek shelter when you see lightning.

You’ll be reasonably safe from lightning inside the structure. You’ll also be fairly safe in an automobile or truck.  But never take shelter under an isolated tree or where you’re in contact with a tractor, crane, or other equipment.  If you get caught out in the open, stay as low as you can.  It’s much safer to be down in a ditch than on top of the ground.

 Rain Can Ruin a Job

Rain may be good for the farmer but it can play havoc with a construction job.  It can turn it into a gigantic mud pie.  Water seems to get in everywhere.  Rain can ruin building materials and supplies and generally make things downright messy.  Steel gets slippery, equipment gets stuck, and we get wet.

By covering equipment, materials, tools, supplies and ourselves, we don’t give rain a chance to do as much damage as it could.

Controlling the Weather

As I said, we can control the weather only as far as it affects the job.  I haven’t been able to discuss all of the safety precautions that can be taken in case of inclement weather.  But common sense usually dictates the right thing to do in any situation.