Managing Site Safety in the Rain

Eastman Cooke Team

During cool and rainy weather, construction safety is more critical than ever. Eastman Cooke Project Superintendent Glen Peden recommends taking several precautions to keep construction crews and the public safe from harm.

Cover Up

Placing a tarp on scaffolding will help to divert heavy rain while shielding materials, such as plywood, to prevent major water damage. Glen also suggests erecting a small hut to protect masonry work at building sites. “At our West 51st Street site in Manhattan, we constructed a plastic-protected roof to shield crews from harsh weather conditions,” Glen explains.

Dress Appropriately

During spring and summer months, temperatures are constantly shifting. To adjust accordingly, Glen says dressing in layers is a must. “The weather starts out chilly in the morning and temperatures rise by the afternoon. Being able to regulate your body temperature is essential. Wearing the right clothing will prevent workers from overheating or feeling too cold,” he points out.

In severe wet weather, rain gear is a practical solution to help crews stay dry. “To maintain productivity, workers should wear a light rain jacket that they can pack into an everyday bag,” he suggests.

Mind the Wind

When working with tarps, make sure the plastic is sturdy and that the tarps are tied down securely with ropes or bungee cords in the event of wind gusts. Concrete Masonry Unit (CMU) blocks can help to weigh down construction materials to prevent them from flying away and potentially injuring people.

Excavation

If your construction crew is scheduled for excavation work during a rainstorm, be sure to hold off until the storm passes. “The rain can loosen up pipe work and other materials, resulting in a premature collapse,” Glen explains. “For the safety of our workers, we avoid excavation during heavy rains, so that we don’t run the risk of anyone getting trapped in the trenches.”

Technology

Glen recommends using smartphone apps like MyRadar Pro to help track weather patterns and keep projects on schedule. “Doppler radar enables us to see if we’re in for a long downpour and how long we’ll need to wait for it to pass. The app even picks up lightning strikes,” Glen points out.

And speaking of lightning, that’s one weather phenomenon no construction crew should mess with. “Lightning is to be respected. If there’s a chance it could hit, I tell my crews to take cover, go indoors and check the app to determine how long the strikes will last,” Glen explains. “It’s best to stick to inside work until the weather clears and it’s safe to go back outside. It really comes down to common sense.”

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