February 2, 2023


Heavy equipment in the snow

The best time to protect yourself and your business from a winter storm is long before the temperature drops and the precipitation falls. You need time to calmly discuss and revise your master plan. While you’re at it, you should create plans for other potential natural disasters in your area, such as tornadoes or floods. 

Here is a guide for protecting yourself, your employees and your worksites before, during and after a storm. 

Make a plan

The old rule of hoping for the best but preparing for the worst applies here. In the case of a winter storm, the worst could include extended power outages, lack of access to key supplies and workers unable to get out of their houses to perform important duties. Your master plan should have contingency plans for all those outcomes. 

Here are some questions to answer in your master plan:

  • Who will monitor events and make key decisions?
  • Who will communicate important information to your employees, subcontractors and customers?
  • How will they communicate it?
  • Who is in charge of preparing each jobsite for the storm?
  • What equipment will you need before and after the storm to deal with the weather?
  • How and when will you acquire and distribute the needed equipment?
  • Will your company or a third–party vendor handle snow removal?

Your master plan will be tweaked based on your active projects and the nature of the storm. Depending on whether you’re expecting ice, heavy snow, strong winds or bitter cold — or a combination of all four — your concerns will be different. Try to have a specific plan in place at least three days before the storm is scheduled to hit.

Prepare your worksites

Depending on a project’s stage of construction, it might need special attention to protect it from precipitation or extreme cold. Consult a structural engineer about whether the roof can support the expected amount of snow or whether it needs support. If you have heating cables available for the roof, make sure they’re in place and turned on.

Here are some other questions to consider about your worksites:

  • Are the pipes insulated and do they have water in them? 
  • If the building isn’t enclosed, does it need to be protected from water and wind with sheeting? 
  • Do you have the appropriate heaters, generators and plenty of fuel onsite? 
  • In the case of a power outage, do you have a plan to monitor and prevent pipes from freezing in enclosed structures? 
  • Do you have shovels and snow removal equipment stored in an accessible place?
  • Is someone in charge of checking the temperature in indoor vacant buildings to ensure pipes don’t freeze?

The day before the storm, make your final preparations, including: 

  • Spread de-icer on walkways.
  • Make sure crane booms and other heavy equipment attachments are lowered. 
  • Drain idle pumps and compressors.
  • Secure tools and building materials. 
  • Clean up the jobsite to prevent windblown debris. 
  • Clear roof drains and gutters of blockages that could prevent drainage and create ice dams.
  • Make sure the decision-makers are on the same page about assessing when it’s safe for work to resume after the storm and communicating their decisions.

Assess damage

After a heavy snow, inspect your buildings under construction for signs of damage, such as sagging roofs, cracks, water stains and doors or windows that don’t open or close properly. Check for reduced water flow that could be a sign of frozen or damaged pipes. Make sure the electrical and HVAC systems are working.

If you find signs of damage, take photos or videos to document the problems and contact your insurer. Assess what needs to be repaired and in what order the repairs should be done. If a power line is down, stay away from it and call your utility company.

Only after you’ve confirmed the safety of the structure should work resume. 

Determine equipment needs

Winter storms can cause power outages, water damage  and dangerously low temperatures. 

Generators, heaters and lights can keep your jobsites safe and protected when the power is out. Pumps can remove unwanted water. Air movers can help dry out damp surfaces. We also have power and hydraulic tools to help repair damaged areas. 

For big jobs, like removing snow or debris, we offer heavy machinery, such as loaders and material handlers, with a variety of attachments. Backhoes, wheel loaders and skid steers are commonly used for plowing and stacking snow. Boom and scissor lifts can help you reach and repair roofs and other elevated surfaces. 

Your local EquipmentShare branch can help you prepare and protect your employees and jobsites before, during and after the storm.

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