The rainy season has just started and if recent weather patterns are anything to go by, we are in for some changeable and uncertain weather.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for what needs to be done in rainy, wet conditions, and how to carry on working safely even if the weather is wet – noting which materials need to be protected and how to safeguard workers.
Worker safety should be the top priority on job sites, regardless of the weather. In South Africa, most of the measures to prevent accidents and protect workers on site are laid down in Construction Regulations – GNR 84. Get familiar with the Safety Regulations which clearly state that no employee is permitted to work on roofs during inclement weather conditions. Your company is beholden to abide by the OSH ACT Regulations set by the Government.
Preparing your Construction Site for Rain
Property damage from rain can add both cost and time to a project. While it’s not possible to fully predict and react in a timely fashion to storms, a contingency plan can help contractors prepare for the unexpected. Protect your site from project-delaying damage as well as injuries with some advance planning.
With a multitude of materials around on construction sites, inclement weather can present a safety risk to employees, and a financial risk to materials.
- Place protective sheets on all sheeting or steel items and move them onto high enough ground, raised on dunnage or similar, so that they are protected from damp and water ingress.
- Cover scaffolding and remove loose items such as tools. Items can be stored in areas which are protected from flooding.
- Some structures should be tied down in order to secure them from wind upliftment or movement.
Make use of a Weather Forecasting Service
Since weather can have a major impact on project schedules, it’s important to use all possible means to predict when storms will arrive in the area. Good weather services should be able to provide satellite imagery and up-to-date, detailed information about local weather.
Working in the Rain
Some other sensible safety practices should be considered including:
Waterproof Gear: Protective items such as raincoats, waterproof footwear and proper hand protection which features a strong, slip-proof grip are essential on rainy days. Rain also means that the weather might get cooler. Dressing in layers will help protect you from getting cold, but make sure that clothing fits properly and does not flap around, and that it does not restrict or interfere with movement. You need all your resources in wet weather!
Slippery when wet: The slightest amount of rain can make walkways and scaffolding very slippery. Wear proper footwear with a deep tread to prevent slipping. Good slip resistant boots or footgear won’t necessarily guarantee that you won’t fall, but they do reduce the risk greatly.
Lightning strikes: During thunderstorms, be cautious of exposed steel structures and cranes which can become effective lightning rods.
Live wires: Wet weather increases the chances of dangerous live wires. You should always be cautious around live wires, and alert others to electrical cables which can become live during rainy weather.
Cave-ins: Wet weather can impact trench stability which becomes more prone to cave-ins. Too often people think that excavations for service connections and drains are not hazardous enough to require safeguards against collapse. Unless the walls are solid rock, never enter a trench deeper than 1 metre if it is not properly sloped, shored, or protected by a trench box.
Don’t rush to finish: Although the weather may make you inclined to work more quickly to get out of the rain, this is dangerous. Rain results in slick surfaces, so work more slowly and deliberately – particularly when climbing ladders.
Use the correct equipment: Do not use electrical tools and equipment which are not specifically rated for outdoor use when working in the rain. Select hand tools with textured, non-slip grip handles.
Ensure adequate vision: If you wear glasses or goggles, use anti-fog spray or wipes on them before going outside. Wear a hood or hat to keep rain out of your eyes. Because a hood narrows your range of vision, be sure to look both ways when wearing one. When working at night, make sure lighting is adequate and the lights used are rated for outdoor use.
Make sure you can be seen: Wear high-visibility clothing, especially in areas with vehicle traffic and heavy machinery. Do not wear rain gear or vests which have become dull or are no longer reflective.
And finally, for any Safal Steel material on site, please refer to our Technical Brochure (page 16) which details best practice for the handling and storage of our material on site. It notes the following:
Stacking of (our steel) sheet should allow for air circulation. Profiled sheets should be kept dry, preferably covered and at an angle to allow air circulation which will assist in drying, particularly if temperature oscillation causes condensation… Sheets in bundles or stacks should not be allowed to get wet while nested as water will be drawn up between the nested surfaces by capillary action. If they do get wet, sheets should be separated and restacked to allow air circulation to complete the drying process.
Hopefully with the above tips at your disposal you will be able to adequately prepare for wet conditions, and safeguard your materials and workers during the next spell of inclement weather.
View more information on Zincal and Colorplus.