Winter Work Safety Concerns for Artisan Contractors

Winter Work Safety Concerns for Artisan ContractorsArtisan contractor is the term used to describe specialty contractors who range in vocation, including electricians, plumbers, painters, drywall specialists, landscapers, carpenters, roofers and heating and air technicians. They are often small business owners or self-employed in their profession, typically working either for individual clients or alongside general contractors as subcontractors on a larger construction project. Because of the nature of subcontractor work, artisan contractors are often at the mercy of their client, meaning they work when they’re needed – even if that sometimes means working in harsh weather.

Winter Weather Risks for Artisan Contractors

Weather-related safety incidents are common in contractor jobs, especially during the winter. When working on a construction site, contractors are often working out in the elements for hours at a time. The extreme cold can make simple tasks more difficult, even causing problems with equipment that can prolong the completion of a project – potentially meaning more time spent in unfavorable weather conditions.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) warns that when contractors are exposed to extreme weather conditions for prolonged periods of time they can be at a higher risk for cold stress. NIOSH explains that cold stress can affect contractor safety in a variety of ways, such as increasing the chances of cold-related illnesses including hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot. Not to mention, excessive amounts of wind and freezing temperatures increase slip and fall risks as well.

Winter Safety Tips for Artisan Contractors

It’s obvious that staying out of the elements is the best way to stay safe when working as a contractor, but it’s not always possible when there’s a job that needs to get done. Below are a few important winter safety tips for contractors.

  • Limit exposure as much as possible. When working indoors is not an option, proper winter weather gear should be worn to help reduce the effects of the cold. Thermal undergarments, insulated pants and coats, thick boots with water-wicking socks and wind-resistant gloves can help keep contractors warm and safe from the effects of cold stress.
  • Keep an eye on weather forecasts. Some winter weather just isn’t safe to work in no matter what precautions are taken. Contractors should check the weather before heading out to a job site. No one wants to be caught in the blizzard while working in an open structure. If weather conditions are expected to take a bad turn, it may be best to postpone work for a day or two.
  • Prepare the worksite. Before work is started on a site, the supervisors should check for any new hazards that may have appeared overnight. Snow and ice should be removed as much as possible, and salt or sand should be put around the site to help prevent slipping. If efforts are not made to mitigate winter hazards, contractors should speak up and advise the site supervisors on areas of concern.
  • Review commercial lines insurance policies. Artisan contractors have unique insurance needs, which are sometimes comprised of a package of different insurance products and services, similar to a business owners policy. Before heading out to work in winter weather, contractors should ensure their commercial policies will cover any business losses that can occur after a weather-related injury or accident.

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