The holiday season is a busy time for many industries, including construction. With the added pressures and distractions of the season, it's essential to prioritize safety on construction sites. Here are a few tips to help keep workers safe and healthy during the holiday season. Share these construction safety reminders during a toolbox talk or safety briefing before the holidays.
1. Avoid Winter-Related Injuries and Illnesses
The crisp, cold temperatures and bright, beautiful snow signature to the winter season are also the cause of thousands of worker injuries each year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported over 20,000 occupational injuries due to ice, sleet, and snow in 2017. Avoid winter-related workplace injuries by being cognizant of weather conditions on your jobsite and following these recommendations:
- Limit exposure to below-freezing temperatures. Conditions such as hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot occur due to prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.
- Know the signs of winter-related illnesses. Workers experiencing extensive shivering, stumbling, lack of coordination, or slurred speech should seek emergency help immediately.
- Wear winter protective clothing such as insulating layers, head, hands, and feet protection, and a waterproof jacket.
2. Be Cautious while Holiday Decorating
Holiday decorating may seem like an innocent task, but it causes as many as 15,000 emergency room visits each year, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Accidents offsite can destroy worker confidence and morale onsite. While getting into the holiday spirit, keep safety front of mind with these best practices:
- Follow proper ladder safety techniques, like using the right ladder for the job, inspecting the ladder prior to use, and carefully climbing and descending the ladder.
- Check holiday light cords for any missing bulbs, broken bulbs, or exposed or frayed wiring.
- Only use extension cords outdoors that are rated for exterior use, plug the cord into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet, and avoid any cord tripping hazards.
- Ensure faux trees are fire-resistant and keep your tree away from any heat sources, like fireplaces and radiators.
- Never leave lit candles unattended, and keep them away from pets, children, and flammable materials.
3. Stay Alert while Driving
Traffic congestion significantly increases around the holidays—as do traffic accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that there are generally more car crash fatalities during the holidays than non-holidays, often due to increased travel time, alcohol use, and driving speeds. If you’re planning to head out on the roads this holiday season, incorporate these driving safety tips:
- Follow the mantra “Stop, Revive, Survive.” Stop driving before you feel tired, and take a break every two hours while driving to revive yourself. Getting enough rest before heading out on the road will help ensure you and your loved ones survive the trip.
- Plan ahead and give yourself enough time to get to and from where you need to go. There is no need to rush on the roads, as doing so can lead to speeding and reckless driving. Instead, take your time and follow local traffic safety laws.
4. Prevent Worker Fatigue from Offsite Activities
Employee schedules outside work hours are often busy and tiresome during the holiday season. Such conditions can impact performance and concentration levels on the jobsite. Offer these helpful holiday reminders to workers during safety briefings to maintain a culture of safety both on and off the job:
- Consume alcohol and rich foods in moderation. Balance your typical diet with holiday indulgences.
- Spend time relaxing outside of social events to recharge and reduce stress.
- Make time for physical activity during time off to avoid injuries upon returning to work.
- Try to maintain current daily routines and get enough sleep.
5. Avoid Holiday-Related Stresses
The joyous holiday season is filled with both excitement and expectations, the latter often inducing stress. The American Psychological Association reports that commonly felt negative emotions during the holidays include fatigue, stress, irritability, and sadness. Holiday-related stress can compound any existing pressure felt on a construction jobsite, whether due to strenuous work, unrealistic deadlines, or worker tensions. Use the following tips to manage worker stress levels during the holidays and beyond:
- Have open and honest discussions about stress levels. No one should have to suffer in silence.
- Ask for help if workloads or expectations become unsustainable. Supervisors may be able to shift around responsibilities to balance expectations and output.
- Don’t overcommit yourself. Practice time management and allocate hours for resting and recharging.
More construction safety and safety briefing topics by HammerTech can be found here.
We wish you and your teams a well-deserved break!
Toolbox Talks about safety and the holidays: