Winter Construction: Workers Brave the Elements

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Weathering the cold is no joke. We bundle ourselves before heading out to the office, going to our cars, or grabbing a coffee on lunch break, but it’s never fun. Layer after layer, we add bulk and annoyance to our routine only to brave the whipping winds for a brief period of time. Sitting in a cold car, while unpleasant, doesn’t really factor into the time we spend outdoors because we’re sheltered. Walking from the car to the office is maybe five minutes at most. It’s still horrible, regardless of the time.

Consider then, some construction workers work almost exclusively outdoors with little shelter from the elements save for a half-built structure or something without a roof. If we can barely stand to face winter full-on during a short walk or a chilly car ride, how do certain people spend an entire working day staring winter down?

Aside from educating workers about the risks of frostbite and hypothermia, here are a few tips to help you stay safe this coming winter.

Maintain Body Heat

Trapping heat with the right clothing is a very efficient way of preserving that ever-so-crucial core body heat. Thermal Insulated Coveralls, like the ones here, offer whole-body protection from the cold while allowing for a full range of motion. More importantly, the design ensures that core body heat is not lost by cocooning the wearer in one snugly piece of protective wear. Under your coveralls, layering is essential since the majority of our body heat originates in the torso.

Once you’ve secured your warmth through many layers of clothes, next to think of is your head and neck. These are the places where the most body heat is lost, so think of investing in a helmet liner to go under the hard hat. These can be made of anything from cotton to fleece-lined fabric, but any material will do the job of insulating those susceptible areas. The protective coverage will prevent wind from chilling you, especially if you opt for a long model as opposed to a shorter one.

Accessories should never be forgotten, especially when spending extended periods of time in the cold. Gloves to save your hands, a scarf to protect your neck and chest, eye protection to prevent discomfort, and don’t forget a double layering of thermal socks!

Be Reflective

Construction is a dangerous job in and of itself. The heavy machinery and physical demands are one thing, accounting for unaware drivers or non-observant people is another. This is why reflective materials, like vests and belts, are a staple when working in any position relating to construction.

Also called high-visibility, this reflective material shines like daylight even at the darkest time of the day. Some products made with workers in mind will integrate reflective material into the clothing, as seen here. Otherwise, a high visibility vestlayered over coats and such will work just fine. In some cases, reflective and cold weather items are issued as personal protective equipment (PPE) by law.

Don’t Skimp on Skincare

One of the worst things about winter, in my humble opinion, is the dryness. It’s not just the air that’s arid; it’s your hands, face, and feet. During the cold months, using a skin moisturizer or barrier cream on your exposed skin will protect your skin from direct contact with the frigid air.

Additionally, skincare is a preemptive measure against dryness. If you start out with a relatively moisturized face in the morning, chances are it’ll remain somewhat moist throughout the day whereas a dry face will become dryer (resulting in painful cracking) by day’s end. For those working with their hands, it’s very important to have a moisturizing hand cream available for continued application.

Take Time to Get Toasty

Amidst the flurries of snow, while workers labour away at their various projects, providing a bit of fun can make the day’s work a little less wearisome. For those working outside, this means hot beverages and a heated break area. Putting up a few portable heaters where people congregate can be a life-saver. Rotating tasks isn’t a bad idea to keep the blood flowing and minimize exposure to the elements. In fact, during the cold months, breaks should be more frequent to ensure proper energy levels and stave off hypothermia or frostbite.

Have a designated friend who keeps an eye on you, and vice versa, for any safety issues.  The pair of you can engage in some exercises to warm up your bodies before or in the middle of work. Doing so will circulate warm blood and oxygenate the muscles. As a final note, bringing extra pairs of socks, gloves, and boots to work is a great idea! It can be dangerous to spend the day in wet clothing.

Know What Works

According to ForConstructionPros.com, the type of material and how customisable the clothing will help you regulate body temperature throughout the day. For example, a leather jacket is well-suited to the cold because of its insulating properties, but if you’re expected to be on-the-job, the inflexibility and delicate nature of leather is not conducive to work. 

A zip-up sweater, on the other hand, offers layering and flexibility. Clothing with zippers, buttons, or Velcro allows the wearer to change their clothing to suit the weather or personal preference.


Being prepared is half the battle. Now that you’ve brushed up on cold weather awareness, remember to always dress for the weather.

Jacqui Litvan

Jacqui Litvan, wielding a bachelor’s degree in English, strives to create a world of fantasy amidst the ever-changing landscape of military life. Attempting to become a writer, she fuels herself with coffee (working as a barista) and music (spending free time as a raver).

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Last modified: 16th April 2018