At Durable Slate, we work through the winter. In doing so, we take the necessary steps to keep our employees safe in cold weather.
“Working through the winter can be just as safe as any other time of the year as long as you take precautions and plan for it,” Safety Director Joe Redd said. “We’ve stayed productive every winter for the last 30 years.”
While some forms of construction – masonry, soldering, painting, asphalt roofing – can be impeded with cold weather, Durable Slate’s emphasis on slate and tile work can be done virtually year-round.
Other than major build-ups of snow and ice, “there’s very little that can stop us,” Joe Redd said.
According to safety guidelines, Durable Slate employees will often work in favorable conditions above 20 degrees Fahrenheit. When the outside temperature approaches that baseline or falls below it, Durable Slate maintains constant communication between the production manager and crew.
“Cold tolerance can vary from person to person,” Redd said. “Our production managers make it a point to know each person’s level of tolerance and comfort.”
On average, the temperature in Ohio and Maryland typically stays above 20 degrees in the daytime throughout the winter months, Redd added.
To combat the cold, Durable Slate’s policy is to keep company trucks running to provide a source of heat and comfort. The brief respite from the weather helps keep employees safe and production on schedule.
Other than the cold temperature, dehydration is another major factor to consider. During a heavy work period, a person should drink at least one-half quart of water per hour.
“Once you’re dehydrated, it can impact the body’s ability to heat up extremities like fingers and toes,” Redd said. “Without proper hydration, it can eventually lead to frostbite.”
Cold Weather Tips
- Multiple layers of clothing – several layers can trap warm air without restricting blood flow, which in effect prevents frostbite
- Dry clothing – stay dry since moisture can decrease the insulating ability of your clothing
- Buddy system – each pair of employees monitor the safety of one another
- Face/neck protection (balaclava, scarf) – 80% of heat loss comes from the head or neck
Joe Redd serves as the safety director for The Durable Slate Company in Columbus. He has been with the company for 13 years and spent the last three years improving safety.