To avoid injuries to workers and the public what is the most essential construction hire equipment for winter? Short dark days mean poor lighting, cold conditions can negatively affect workers and rain, snow and ice increase the risks of slips and falls. According to HSE statistics for 2017 – 2020, slips, trips and falls account for 64% of accidents in construction (hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/construction.pdf), with the majority happening in winter. As the season only lasts a few months, buying all the equipment to keep your site safe can be prohibitively expensive. Hiring can be far more cost effective, especially as not all items will be needed for every job. Here are nine examples of construction equipment to keep your winter worksite as safe, efficient and productive as possible.
Working outdoors in cold temperatures can leave workers at risk of cold stress, leading to hypothermia. This can cause confusion, loss of coordination and disorientation, placing the worker and others nearby at great risk. Regular breaks should be taken in a warm enclosed space to avoid this. Compact electric heaters are ideal for warming small areas or larger propane space heaters can be used for larger spaces. Propane heaters should only be used in well ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide build up. These are also useful for speeding up drying of plaster or concrete and preventing the water they contain from freezing in cold conditions.
Even during the day, lighting conditions are notoriously poor in winter, especially indoors. Days are shorter and if work continues into the evening, the site will need to be well lit. LED mobile lighting towers provide huge amounts of light, with multi direction, tiltable floodlights. These can be easily wheeled around the site to where illumination is most needed and stabilised once in place. For smaller outdoor areas or indoor work, tripod mounted floodlights are a compact, stable and hardwearing alternative. Tripod mounted uplights or LED plasterers lights can also be used where even, non-directional illumination is needed.
With the increased demand for heat and light comes an increased demand for power. As many construction sites don’t have access to mains electricity, a petrol or diesel generator will be needed to meet this. Portable generators are easy to move to where they’re needed and come in a wide range of sizes and power outputs. Splitter boxes and extension cables allow multiple pieces of equipment to operate from one generator at different locations. If mains electricity is available, transformers may be necessary to decrease the mains voltage to the correct levels for site equipment.
Excavator dozer blades can be invaluable in winter for clearing ice and snow that has drifted on construction sites. Not only does this obscure the work area, it can conceal hazards and compacted snow can freeze to form hard ice. Not only is this more difficult to remove, it is a slip hazard for workers and can cause vehicles to skid and crash. For especially heavy loads of snow and ice, a larger dozer blade or bucket can be attached to clear the area.
Many trees still shed leaves into winter or piles of decaying Autumn leaves can build up on worksites. These can conceal hazards on the ground and wet leaves are an obvious slip hazard. If these then freeze, they are even more dangerous and harder to remove. Leaves should be removed regularly and air blowers are a quick and effective solution, especially for dry leaves. They can also be used to remove light dry snow from gravel or grass without disturbing the surface below.
While snow is not guaranteed during British winter time, heavy rain is inevitable. Whether from this or melted snow and ice, pools of ground water and flooded trenches and earthworks can be a major problem. For deeper pools of water, submersible pumps can be fully immersed to rapidly drain the water away through a hose. Even smaller models can pump up to 225 litre per minutes to efficiently remove large amounts. To remove shallow pools of ground water, puddle sucker pumps sit on top and drain the water to a depth of just 1mm.
Damp is an ever present problem during winter due to increased rainfall and cold temperatures slowing evaporation. Left unchecked this can encourage the growth of mould and fungus and cause cracking in paint or plaster drying slowly. If the water contained in paint or plaster freezes, the finish and integrity will be ruined. Replacing this slows work considerably and wastes money. Dehumidifiers displace water from the air within the room, speeding drying and avoiding water damage.
Working at height in damp or freezing conditions can be extremely hazardous. Water or ice under foot can cause slipping, leading to potentially deadly falls or dropped materials and tools, endangering individuals below. Anti-slip staging prevents this with a non-slip surface underfoot and a rigid aluminium frame to eliminate bounce. This can also be paired with a handrail for the safest possible scaffolding construction for winter use.
Large pieces of hired equipment will need to be safely stored between uses. Aside from the obvious risk of theft and vandalism, winter weather conditions can damage unprotected equipment. Water can cause rust and ice forming in joints or mechanisms can cause permanent damage to machinery. Power tools should always be stored inside during winter as oil and grease used as lubricants can thicken at very low temperatures. This reduces their lubricating effect and can cause extra wear on parts. Very cold metal components can suffer stress as the motor rapidly heats them, leading to fatigue and breakages. Cordless tools should also be stored away from freezing temperatures that can accelerate battery discharge. Storing equipment in a secure container reduces the chance of exposure to freezing conditions.
SERV Plant Hire are plant and machinery specialists offering a huge variety of construction equipment and tools for hire to the North West of England. If you need additional specialised equipment to complete your winter projects safely and efficiently, contact us. We will be happy to answer any questions and ensure you have the best equipment for the job.