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How to Stay Safe During Winter Construction Debris Removal

Winter is, undoubtedly, one of the messiest times of the year.

The snow piles up, sometimes almost faster than we can clean it, and depending on the weather, we can end up with slush or ice. Salt and sand are also an issue, turning that clean white snowfall into an ugly mess. Winter cleanups are an ongoing process everywhere we go: on the roads, at home, and at the workplace. One thing that often gets overlooked, however, is the cleanup required during winter construction – where it’s the cleanup of a big construction site or a small home renovation project.

It seems pretty obvious that a site cluttered with debris is going to present more of a danger than one which is kept clear. Unfortunately, even though it is common sense, it is something that tends not to be followed up on.

Statistically speaking, when it comes to worker fatalities, more than 20% were in the construction industry, and of those, up to 60% were the result of falls. Those falls were largely the result of debris from construction.

Spring, Summer, Winter Falls

Obviously, the first reason for site safety is that it’s the right thing to do. You simply don’t want your workers to get hurt. Worker safety and the quality of construction are paramount, but there is also the need to keep costs under control and reduce overhead. This can be done by reducing labour and material costs, but the challenge of maintaining standards will limit how much you can reduce. An injured worker, however, will undo any savings that you create by costing you time as well as money.

To avoid worker injuries on the job, you will want to maintain rigorous safety standards, and a significant part of that will include keeping the construction site as clean as possible by clearing away debris.

We don’t often think of small falls as being dangerous. People trip and fall every day without any major repercussions, and yet these are the types of accidents that make up the majority of accidental falls at construction sites.

Dangerous Debris

Looking around the construction site, the most common types of trash that you will find include packaging from materials, demolition debris, scraps, and cutoffs from materials. Having a site riddled with these items is a sure-fire way to injure an employee.

Although we typically assume that falls of only a few feet will be relatively harmless, a fall of, say, 6 feet or less can be as dangerous or even more dangerous than a fall from a greater height, and there are several reasons for this.

Part of the problem is that on construction sites, the type of debris present can turn a painful fall into a serious or even deadly one. Rebar, broken concrete, sharp pieces of metal, and more may be present, all of which pose a threat.

Added to the danger of the site itself is the basic fact that an average person’s reaction time is not sufficient to allow them to protect themselves in a fall. Typically, a person can react within approximately half a second, but while that sounds quite fast, it is about the time needed to fall 4 feet. A fall of 6 feet or less, therefore, leaves almost no time to react.

As if all of this didn’t add up to enough danger, consider the rate at which the force of impact increases. In the case of a 6 foot fall, a 200 pound man will strike with nearly 10,000 pounds of force. On its own, such a fall may prove fatal. Consider, then, what might happen if the fall were to end abruptly upon sharp or jagged debris.

It is for this reason that nearly half of all falls resulting in death are from a height of 20 feet or less, many even occurring from 6 feet or less.

Clearly, removing all debris at regular intervals will contribute to making your work site much safer for your employees, which– all other considerations aside– is best for your business. Routinely clearing away your debris is not just safer, it is smart for your business. The injury of an employee can impact you in many ways, costing you labour hours, as well as increasing your insurance and medical costs, not to mention the effects on morale in the event of a serious or fatal injury that could have been avoided.

Seeking Professional Help

Cleaning up all this debris, hauling it away and then disposing of it is not really a job that most people want to do, and it is made harder by the cold weather. Chances are, you also do not have the time and/or manpower to continually clean while working.

Fortunately, you have other options.

By seeking professionals to assist you with your debris removal and disposal, you will have one less thing to worry about, and while the cleanup and removal of any debris is considered part of the work you are providing, there is nothing to say that it must specifically be done by you.
By hiring a professional crew to clean up, you and your employees can continue to focus on the completion of the project you were hired to do. After all, any time spent removing and disposing of debris is time that is spent away from your real focus, the construction. For a very large job, those hours can add up to a substantial amount of time and money wasted.

In addition to the time spent with the actual, physical task of removal, are you and your crew familiar with laws governing the proper means of disposal? Dealing with your debris requires more than simply carting everything off to the closest landfill.

The Right People for the Job

The laws concerning the appropriate means of disposal are just one more reason that you will want to consider hiring an experienced, professional team to do this for you. Just as your customers carefully selected you for their construction project, you should find those who can handle your debris removal in a timely, effective, and professional manner that suits the needs of you and your crew.

The safety of your employees is your business. Removing your construction debris to keep them safe needn’t be.

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