The clocks have gone back, the longer evenings have arrived and the battle over when to turn on the heating with the missus has begun. This can only mean one thing…winter is fast approaching. Winter can bring some challenges to tradespeople, from sickness to harsh weather conditions.
Nevertheless, it is your responsibility as a tradie to ensure you are prepared to work effectively, particularly in the wet and cold winter months. For this reason, we’ve shared some top tips to help you keep safe and warm on site during the winter.
Wear the right clothing
It can be bitterly cold so don’t underestimate the risk of conditions like hyperthermia when working outside for long periods of time. Therefore, investing in the right winter clothes that will cope with the seasonal demands is not be overlooked.
The best method to stay warm is to go for three loose-fitting layers rather than one or two bulky items. The loose layers will retain heat better and if you get too hot, you can easily take off a layer. Fleeces, thermals and waterproof jackets and trousers are advisable for winter, along with thick socks, scarf and anti-slip gloves.
But one of the most essential pieces of clothing that often gets missed are hats. Around 30-50% of body heat is lost through your head, so retaining this heat can make a huge difference.
Also look for sturdy boots with a good tread for wet and icy surfaces. Along with hi-vis jackets if you’ll be working outside after dark.
Adjust your schedule
Shorter days throughout the winter months means it could take much longer to complete projects. Plus, outdoor work can be subjected to weather conditions which can add to the delay.
To help you work efficiently during winter it’s advisable to adjust your schedule to make the most of the daylight. Not only will this help you complete projects on time, it can also prevent the risk of trips, slips and other accidents. Particularly if you are rushing to get the job done.
Alternatively, lighting can be arranged on site to ensure you can continue working when there is insufficient natural light, providing it is safe to do so. Site lighting comes in all shapes and sizes; from stand-up models that illuminate a broad area to smaller on ground lights which cover a smaller space closer to the ground. Some use LED lighting to save energy and running costs while others use powerful halogens and fluorescents to provide a strong and consistent light source.
There are a wide range of brands available at most builder merchant stores. Visit your local store to learn more.
Know when to stop
It can be tempting to keep working when you are keen to get the job done, even when the weather conditions are bad. Of course, beating the deadline is essential but your safety is much more important.
Therefore, ensure that you keep assessing the risk when the weather is very wet and stormy, or when working on icy surfaces. This includes checking your electrical tools are safe to use in these conditions. Be sure to keep up to date with weather updates to inform the client in advance of any potential delays.
But stopping outdoor work shouldn’t mean you should finish for the day. Instead, use the time to work on other areas of the business, such as finance and administrative tasks.
Eat a healthy diet
Although eating a diet full of fruits and vegetables is important throughout the year, but it couldn’t be more important now more than ever. Fruit and vegetables provide you with nutrients your body needs to boost your immune system. Therefore, protecting you from catching a cold or the flu.
If you are a tea or coffee lover, a thermos flask will be become your best friend in winter. They’re a great way to not only keep your drinks warm, but also yourself.
Have insurance in place
Slips and falls are common accidents among tradespeople, so ensuring you have the right insurance policy in place is crucial.
Public liability insurance is beneficial for every tradesperson. It can pay for legal fees and compensation costs in the event of your business being blamed for injury or damage.
Income protection plan, Total & Permanent Disability (TPD) insurance and other life insurance policies are also valuable to prepare for the worse.
Learn more about liability insurance and other beneficial policies that you should have.