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Winter safety hazards – and how to avoid them

Construction jobs come with their own set of challenges. Add to that the freezing temperatures, gale-force winds, and poor visibility synonymous with winter – and the need for specific safety precautions is greater than ever for crane hire.

It’s crucial that you have equipment that’s up to the job and compliant with industry-wide safety standards, especially in the colder months.

That’s why, in today’s article, the team at Bryn Thomas Cranes outlines how the winter weather can affect crane hire, and what you can do to prevent such hazards.


Winter hazards

  • Visibility – there’s no denying that a crane will be one of the biggest pieces of equipment you have on your construction site and one of the most dangerous, if not operated properly.


Fog, rain, snow, sleet, glare from the sun, or a lack of lighting can reduce visibility. When visibility is poor, it can stop the crane driver from being able to see where they are going. As a result, they might end up hitting something or causing damage to the plant, hired equipment, and load being lifted.


  • Icy conditions – everyone knows how dangerous it can be to drive on icy roads throughout the winter, and the same applies to operating a crane in slippery conditions.


Freezing temperatures could freeze the load to the ground and make it tricky to lift. Alternatively, ice may increase the weight of the goods that need to be moved, requiring a crane with a higher lifting capability.


  • Snow – perhaps one of the most obvious dangers of working at height in cold weather is falling. Ice and snow exacerbate this risk.


Black ice, caused by thawing temperatures or frozen condensation, can be hard to spot. Similarly, melting snow could re-freeze at any point, making it harder to remove and even more treacherous.


  • Wind – whilst all cranes are designed to lift and move large, cumbersome loads, they have different limits on how much wind they can resist. For instance, a mobile crane might be able to withstand winds up to 30mph, whereas a crane that’s stabilised to the ground might be able to operate in stronger winds.


It’s important to note that the forecast may not be 100% accurate and the winds may be stronger than expected. This increases the risk of the crane wobbling and not being safe to operate.


Five cranes hire safety tips for winter

1.    Check the crane

The risk of a crane jamming is far greater in cold weather – and without regular care and attention, it can jeopardise the safety of the entire lift. With that said, all cranes and lifting equipment needs to be checked and serviced often.

Luckily, when you opt for a CPA crane hire or contract lift with us at Bryn Thomas Cranes, you can relax knowing that all our cranes are properly maintained, tested, and certified. They come with a competent operator, too.


2.    Be alert

The wintery conditions can affect a lot of activities that would usually occur without a hitch. Slips and falls are most common in the winter – but a little extra caution can go a long way.

Make sure that you observe the surfaces around the crane. Prevent accidents and injuries on-site by making sure the ground around the crane isn’t slippery due to ice or snow.


3.    Cover up machinery

When you don’t need to use the crane and/or any other lifting equipment, you should keep it covered up. Ideally with a tarpaulin sheet or water-resistant cover.

Not only will this prevent ice, snow, and condensation from interfering with the components, but it will also eliminate the risk of your machinery corroding and requiring replacements.


4.    Allow the crane time to warm up

When working in bitterly cold conditions, you might be tempted to get started right away. However, it’s important to note that most malfunctions occur as a result of the machinery being used before it reaches operating temperature.

When you start the machine, always allow plenty of time for it to warm up before you start to lift or move loads.


5.    Remove debris from the site

Keeping the work site clean and professional is vital all year round – but even more so in the winter. Any debris from the day’s work needs clearing, as overnight snowfall could hide it and make the working conditions dangerous.

Never sacrifice safety in favour of speed. Shovel and de-ice regularly to prevent anyone from falling or slipping on-site.


Contact Bryn Thomas Cranes

Bryn Thomas Cranes is one of the most established crane hire companies in the UK – with depots in strategic locations across Flint, Manchester, Liverpool, Durham, and Newcastle.

Our team has vast experience when it comes to crane hire, and we are continually investing in our fleet and training to keep pace with the latest regulations.

If you have any questions about operating a crane safely throughout the winter, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re always on hand to help and will do everything we can to assist.

Either call us on 01352 733 984, email our head office at flint@brynthomascranes.com, or complete the online enquiry form and we’ll get back to you ASAP.

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