High Wind Dangers Safety Talk
When you are working outside sometimes you are at the mercy of the weather. Rain, snow, ice, and heat all can play a huge role in the ability to work outside but a less talked about hazard is high winds. it is important to also realize that high winds can pose a threat and are a safety hazard and what to do if you find yourself working in these conditions.
What is Considered High Winds?
High wind is a wind of such velocity that one or more of the following hazards would be present:
The wind could blow an employee from an elevated location.
The wind could cause an employee or equipment handling material to lose control of the material.
The wind would expose an employee to other hazards not controlled by the standard involved.
OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) normally considers winds that are exceeding 40 miles per hour as high winds. If the work involves material handling, high winds can be considered at 30 miles per hour, unless the employer takes precautions to protect employees from the hazards of the wind.
High Wind Hazards
Every construction job site is different so not every site will have the same hazards that can be created by high winds. Some high wind hazards include but are not limited to:
Strains and sprain due to wind forcefully pulling doors from the operator's hands
Struck-by incidents due to objects being blown around
Slips, falls, and trips due to workers reacting to a falling hardhat or object due to the wind blowing these items over
Eye injuries due to small particles of flying debris and dust
Dropped loads while completing lifts with wind present
Objects falling from elevated surfaces
Unplanned movement of overhead power lines
If you see some hazards on your job site you should always alert your coworkers as well as your supervisor. If you are unsure of something being a hazard it is always better to speak up.
How to Prepare for High Winds
In order to keep yourself and other workers safe on a construction job site there are several things you can do to prepare:
Check weather reports and monitor conditions continuously. Do not schedule work at elevations on days when high winds are in the forecast.
Wind can pick up quickly and sudden guests can take you by surprise. Make sure you always wear a harness when working at heights over 1.5m and ensure you are connected to an anchor point at all times.
Ensure partially built structures are properly secured and supported at all times regardless of weather conditions and that walls are braced until the building is complete.
Ensure scaffolding and other temporary structures are secure and can not be blown over.
How to Stay Safe During High Winds
Should you find yourself working in high winds there are a few safety tips you should follow. If you have any questions about any of these you should always ask your supervisor for clarification.
Some safety tips to remember during high winds include:
Never work on scaffoldings, roofs, or other elevations during strong winds.
Ensure that tools are packed away safely and that roofing sheets, cones, signage, and other loose materials are safely secured. A high wind can pick up a piece of scrap metal and carry it as far out as the height from which it came!
Wear eye protection to keep dust, debris, and other foreign particles from blowing into the eyes.
Ensure hard hats are securely fastened and can not be blown off your head.
Use extreme caution when picking up large sections of plywood or similar flat materials that can fly through the air.
Tag lines should be used when hoisting loads with large flat surfaces.
Do not operate hoisting equipment in high winds without approval from your supervisor.
Cease all crane operations until wind speeds return to acceptable levels.
Working during high winds can be extremely difficult and the potential for injuries is high. Always use extreme caution and if you feel like winds are too high to continue, bring it to your supervisor's attention. You should never put yourself or your fellow coworkers at risk on purpose.
High Wind Best Practices
Take a few minutes to look over your work area and site for potential hazards due to high winds. Discuss with other workers what you think could be done to eliminate or reduce the potential for injury and equipment damage.
Some of the best practices to eliminate hazards and injuries related to high winds include:
Eliminate work tasks altogether that become dangerous in windy conditions.
Park trucks and equipment where the wind is blowing against the opposite side that the operator enters and exits.
Do not reach or react to dropping an object or losing a hardhat to the wind. This can be very dangerous especially when you are on an elevated surface.
Do not attempt to conduct lifting operations during high wind events. Make sure to ask your supervisor if they are monitoring high winds and ask when you should stop working.
Never stand in the line of fire! This could mean with a lifted load, next to a truck dumping materials or downwind from blowing dust.
Wear safety glasses but you should also consider wearing goggles if the dust and debris are getting worse.
Not all injuries can be prevented but when you and your coworkers work together to try to have a safe job site the potential for injuries can decrease.
On a construction site, it is critical that you pre plan your day and your tasks to ensure safety. You will find that weather can play a major role in what tasks you will be able to do that day and ones you will have to wait on. When high winds are going to be present, plan work accordingly. Avoid certain tasks during high winds as well as use the safeguards you have been taught to ensure your safety as well as the safety of your coworkers.
Should you have any questions or concerns about working during high winds or what safety precautions you should be taking contact your supervisor. They will be able to advise you on the proper safety precautions at your construction job site.
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