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  • Writer's pictureRankin Group


With the mercury dropping every night and shooting back up every day, the construction managers are consistently faced with the challenge to prepare for inclement weather while keeping their project schedules on time. Winter conditions in some parts of the country can be unpredictable. If uncontrolled, these challenges can increase the risk of loss to people, equipment, materials, production and the environment.

It is necessary to include the weather conditions as an integral part of your project estimate and prepare for the cold sooner than later. We have compiled a cold weather preparation list to raise awareness and provide mitigation strategies to reduce the risks associated with working in winter conditions.


During the initial bid and contract preparation phases, winter condition requirements must be accounted for. Minimizing the impact of winter emergencies will require more resources including people, materials and equipment. Initial planning will help to mitigate the impacts winter weather and environmental conditions may have on the project.


During site mobilization, the configuration of the site should accommodate winter requirements. If possible, the site configuration should place offices, lunchrooms, laydown areas and work areas on higher ground than snow storage locations. Drainage should direct snow melt away from roadways and walkways. This will help to eliminate ice formations during freeze thaw cycles. Many incidents occur due to not planning for water accumulation.


Various activities must be completed throughout the year to prepare for and handle winter conditions. Having a planning schedule will help to ensure all activities are completed in time to enable safe work execution.


To commence planning for the winter season, a Winter Safety Kickoff Meeting should be held to discuss pre-winter activities that will be completed prior to winter conditions arriving. Low temperatures can be challenging at construction sites and some of the key components to ensure productivity while making everyone’s safety ascertain are:


The team should be briefed about the safety and emergency procedures; prevention is better than cure. They should be provided the necessary gear to keep themselves warm while working in inclement weather. Development of severe weather protocols will help to limit worker exposure during severe weather conditions.


All equipment on site and the vehicles used for transportation/procurement should be scheduled for a pre-season preventative maintenance inspection and servicing that meets or exceeds manufacturer’s specifications. A winterization checklist should be completed by a competent worker for each vehicle and piece of equipment.


As part of the pre-season planning process, areas where snow removal will be required, snow removal methods and, snow removal crews must be determined. On multi-prime contractor sites, it is important to define areas of responsibility. Creating a map that indicates each prime contractor’s assigned areas will ensure no areas are missed.


To account for limited daylight availability in winter months, it is imperative to time the tasks according to their daylight needs; alternative light sources can be used in certain cases. It is important to ensure areas that do not require a light source have potential hazards identified with reflective barricades or marking. Also, signage in these areas should be made of a retro-reflective material to increase visibility.


Providing the right amount of heat in just the right locations is key to protecting your multi-million dollar projects. Working with an experienced temporary heating company with a successful track record will go a long way to providing you the “peace of mind” that your project is protected.


Near the end of the winter season it will be time to prepare for spring melt. Good site preparation during pre-season planning will ensure that preparations for spring melt are already in place. At the end of the winter season equipment and materials may need to be ordered that will be needed for spring melt such as pumps and hoses for de-watering.

Proactive planning and continuous monitoring can prevent any unforeseen weather delays and keep your project on track.

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