As a company Jordan Foster has a dedication to establishing a culture of safety. From our skill training and HCSS, to our weekly tool box talks and our stand downs, we are working very hard to create a culture of safety and to make everyone realize how essential they are to its success.
With summer and severe weather seasons, even thunderstorms, pose a serious safety risk to anyone working on or near a jobsite. We all know how the effects of Hurricane Harvey destabilized Houston and the surrounding areas. Some in the JFC Family felt the effects not only at their jobsites but personally at their homes as well.
Property damage from severe weather events can add both cost and time to a project. While it’s not possible to fully predict and react in a timely fashion to strong winds and storms, a documented and practiced contingency plan can help contractors prepare for the unexpected. Protect your site and project timeline by evaluating site specific risks, properly securing materials and equipment and anticipating alternate construction plans.
Wind damage to structures under construction leads to millions of dollars in damages and delays every year. At construction sites, wind damage primarily involves masonry walls, framework, forms and roof coverings. Evaluate your site’s wind exposures to eliminate or significantly reduce the risk of damage or delay.
- Brace building components. Tilt-up panels, masonry walls and other building components should be braced and inspected according to engineering design or recommended manufacturer guidelines. Anchor roof panels on partially installed roofs, weld or secure decking each day, and consider covering large wall openings with tarp until windows, doors or glass curtain walls are installed.
- Properly store and handle materials for windy conditions. Loose materials such as sand, topsoil and mulch may need to be covered with a tarp or sprayed with water to prevent erosion. Erecting temporary windbreaks also can help keep the stockpile from being blown from the job site. It is also important to secure larger materials (e.g. metal sheeting or plywood), which could become projectiles and cause additional damage. Closely follow crane manufacturers’ guidelines for when operations should cease, and secure all other equipment from impending weather events.
Tornadoes can occur with little or no warning. Taking precautions in advance of the storms, such as developing an emergency plan, learning the warning signs, and monitoring tornado watches and warnings, can help you stay safe if a tornado occurs in your area.
Tornadoes can occur anywhere and at any time during the year. In an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported throughout the nation. The most violent tornadoes may have wind speeds of 250 mph or more, and may last for more than an hour. Sometimes multiple tornadoes may occur at the same time. Tornadoes can appear rapidly, so it is important to be familiar with the signs in order to stay prepared.
Early warnings about a likely tornado can help save lives. Weather radar systems are used to detect air movement which could indicate that a tornado may be likely to form. Environmental clues may also suggest that a tornado is forming.
Here are some signs to look for:
- Dark, often greenish clouds or sky
- Wall cloud
- Large hail
- Funnel cloud
- Roaring noise
Preparing for a Tornado
With wind speeds up to 250 miles per hour, tornadoes are capable of picking up large objects, including cars and machinery. For construction worker, it is crucial all tools and materials are properly stored away when tornado-like conditions appear. If possible, all tools and materials need to be stored inside a vehicle or container to prevent them from being swung around in high winds caused by a tornado.
What to Do During a Tornado
The safest place to be during a tornado is inside a sturdy building. Unfortunately, most construction workers won’t have sufficient time to make it into a sturdy building. If you can’t make it to a building, the safest thing to do is lie down flat and face down on the ground. Protect the back of your head with your arms. If possible, make sure you are far away from trees, vehicles, or other large objects.
If you are driving when a tornado touches down, the safest thing to do is lie down on the ground outside. If you do not have enough time to make it out of your vehicle safely, park, turn the engine off, make sure you are buckled up, and try to put your head down below the window. If you have a blanket or jacket, use that to cover your head. It is never safe to seek cover from a tornado under a bridge, in a mobile home, or in any portable building.
Writing out plans for emergencies for the construction site, including in cases of extreme weather, is an efficient way for everyone to know what they are supposed to do.
The following steps are recommended to help ensure the safety of personnel if a tornado occurs:
- Develop a system for knowing who is onsite in the event of an emergency
- Establish an alarm system to warn workers specifically for Tornado emergencies
- Test systems frequently
- Develop plans to communicate warnings to personnel with disabilities or who do not speak English
- Account for workers and others as they arrive in the shelter
- Take a head count
- Assign specific duties to employees in advance; create checklists for each specific responsibility. Designate and train alternates in case the assigned person is not there or is injured
- There are many dangers associated with working in the construction, but tornadoes don’t have to be one of them. With the proper precautions and planning, JFC workers can avoid serious injuries from tornadoes.
Hurricanes can be destructive, but they can also be anticipated, which allows time for planning and preparation. If your job site is located in an area subject to hurricanes, have it surveyed to determine the potential exposure to high winds and flooding. Create a hurricane contingency plan to help prevent loss to the job site due to winds, flooding, mud deposition and theft.
- Develop a preparedness checklist. Identify areas in need of protection, such as the field office trailer equipment files, tools, heavy equipment, generators, compressors, welding machines, cranes, cranes on barges, tugs, work boats, fuel tanks, permanent materials and forms.
- Have a relocation plan. If the job involves work on or near bodies of water, make plans to relocate or protect all equipment and watercraft, including tugs and barges. Account for the amount of time it would take to complete any relocation.
- Secure the necessary supplies in advance. When a tropical storm has been identified by the National Weather Service, make sure tie-downs, banding material, blocking, anchors and other necessary protection supplies are available and organized.
- During a hurricane watch, prepare to take action. The project superintendent should review the preparedness checklist, formulate a plan to protect the job site, identify items to secure and consider moving material and equipment to higher, protected ground.
- In a hurricane warning, prepare for the potential for hurricane-force winds within 24 hours. The project superintendent may need to implement all protection measures.
- When landfall is predicted in the area of the job site within 24 hours, suspend all work activities. Complete the hurricane plan by assigning staff and timetables for completion and evacuate all personnel.
- After the storm has passed, assess damage, take steps to prevent theft and begin clean up. Hazards may include unstable structures, downed power lines that may still be energized, and wet or damaged electrical panels. Secure the site, including any equipment or materials being permanently installed, and assess and document damage. Notify appropriate utilities and contact your insurance carrier for damage assessment.
Monsoons and Heavy Rains
Water is one of the leading causes of damage to buildings under construction. Heavy rains can flood a site when drainage systems aren’t complete. These same rains can enter the exterior building envelope through unfinished window and door openings. If roof drains are obstructed, the rising water may find another drain path or try to settle across a level surface.
- Identify potential for flood and evaluate site drainage.Permanent and temporary drainage systems should be installed, maintained and inspected to ensure they are free of obstructions in the event of heavy rains or flooding. Delay installation of high-value subgrade equipment, such as electrical switchgear, until drainage systems are in place and operational.
- Avoid installing finished product, until window and door openings are closed, roof is secured and the building is watertight. Use temporary coverings if necessary to protect finished work.
- The location and construction of temporary roofs should be part of the construction planning process or where installation of the permanent roof is delayed.
- Have a site-specific plan in place, including emergency response, clean-up kit and trained personnel, to assist with mitigating the damage.
- It is important to remember that while construction jobs are vulnerable to severe weather, having processes and procedure in the event of severe weather at every job site does not only prepare and reduce the risk involved but it allows for Jordan Foster Employee’s to have knowledge that can help in any situation.