By Jayden Mark
Getting through the winter months is hard for anyone. However, when you work in construction or outside in windy, cold, and snowy weather, it can be dangerous to your health. Of course, health risks aside, productivity is likely to be hindered because you are dealing with extremely harsh elements. You know that you still need to complete your work regardless of how cold it is. Nevertheless, you may find yourself slacking because of the frigid temperatures. We offer 10 ways to help construction workers and others stay warm while working outside during the winter months.
Have a Warm Area
When you work on a construction site or in the field, you are exposed to the elements for excessively long periods. While you cannot avoid working in cold weather (for the most part), you should still give yourself time to rest in a warm area, such as on your lunch break. Often, employers offer more breaks and a comfortable spot in which to sit and warm up. This allows you to re-energize yourself.
However, it is essential that the place is warm and that you stay in it for enough time to get the body temperature back up. Otherwise, the break doesn’t do you any good. If it is a short-term project, you may have temporary tents available with portable heaters inside. Longer construction projects may use warming shelters or modular cabins.
Wool and Thermals
It might be a good idea to consider thermally insulated coveralls. They’re designed to prevent heat loss while retaining your body heat. Plus, they give you the range of motion you need to stay productive and do your job. Wool is another option to help keep out the cold. However, it can be itchy when it is directly on your skin, so you may want to wear it over a cotton material.
Wear Multiple Layers
When the temperature is frigid, protective coveralls aren’t enough. You need about three layers of clothes to stay warm. The first layer needs to be of a moisture-wicking material. This can draw away sweat from your body. Your second layer should be made of breathable material to insulate the body. Fleece works well. Of course, the outer layer should be a windproof and waterproof coat.
Make sure that you can still move freely while wearing all the layers. You need to be able to do your job.
Protect the Hands
Your hands are used most frequently on the job site, but they are also the first to get cold. Since they’re so far away from the body, you have to wear gloves to keep them warm. Most people remove the gloves to work, but this can lead to frostbite. Make sure that you choose gloves that are lightweight and allow you to grip while still keeping the hands toasty warm. Glove liners can also help here.
Hand or Pocket Warmers
Even with the right pair of gloves, it can be hard to operate equipment and heavy machinery with your gloves. You may be required to remove them at times, but you can keep pocket and hand warmers with you to combat the chill. Options can include refillable, disposable, and rechargeable devices.
Another way to keep your feet warm is to wear multiple pairs of socks (assuming that your boots are still going to fit). The inner sock should be thin wool, nylon, or silk. Then, put on a larger sock to keep the feet toasty warm. If you can find them, polypropylene socks can keep the feet warm and dry.
Head and Neck
Many construction workers want to look macho and cool, so they avoid wearing hats and scarves. However, now isn’t the time to worry about your appearance. Consider balaclavas and warm hats that cover the ears and don’t ride up with wear. When your neck, face, and chest are warm, you might avoid getting a cold.
You never know when something is going to get wet, such as your gloves or socks. Make sure you keep a set of spare clothing, including a coat, head, and neck gear so that you are always warm. If the temperatures are cold enough, you may even want to put on the extra clothes over what you have. Winter is well-known for snow and ice; sometimes, you don’t know it’s coming until you’re standing in it.
Make sure that you focus on your body a few times throughout the day. Does it feel cold? Do you feel moisture anywhere? If the answer is yes, you may want to consider changing into dry or new clothes during your warming-up break.
When it is excessively cold outside, you are going to need face protection. However, most people forget about their eyes. Eye protection, such as protective glasses, should be separate from the mouth and nose to prevent you from fogging up the eyewear with your warm breath.
Construction workers often have to wear personal protective eyewear at all times or for most tasks. Still, during winter, you have added benefits. Make sure you choose eyewear that is going to protect you from the sun’s ultraviolet light. Also, consider anti-glare features to prevent snow-glare. Of course, the eyewear should keep snow and wind away from the eyes, as well.
Insulate the Boots
You need a sturdy pair of boots to wear while on the construction site, but they need to be warm. It might be a good idea to buy a winter and summer pair. The winter boots should be lined with insulation material that protects the feet and keeps them warm. Options can include felt lining, waterproof leather, and rubber soles.
When you have to work outside during winter, you may not think much about it, at first. However, going to the job site unprepared means that you are going to be uncomfortable (and possibly miserable). Plus, you could do serious damage to your body (frostbite). Make sure that you follow these tips to stay warm while on your winter job site. You are going to be glad that you did!
Jayden Mark has gained a wealth of knowledge about safety protocols in industries while working in a steel mill as well as a welder in the construction industry. He is the content editor for comfortworkboots.com where he shares his insights and expertize in his related field.
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