Monthly Archives: February 2019


How to Winterize Your Construction Site

How to Winterize Your Construction Site

Unpredictable–there really is no better way to describe winter weather conditions in the Carolinas.

While we see our fair share of blue sky, sunny, 60 degree days, it’s not all that uncommon to see arctic temps (by our standard), freezing rain, sleet, ice, and even snow in the forecast. We should also mention, the switch can happen quite literally overnight.

When real winter conditions take effect, construction work becomes significantly more difficult and dangerous. But if there’s one thing those of us involved in the construction industry know, it’s that deadlines don’t stop for anything–especially outside temperatures or weather.

Winter brings a whole host of new hazards to your construction site. Therefore, it’s important to understand how to properly winterize your team and your worksite.

Taking steps to winterize your construction site will:

  • Prevent accidents with your crew
  • Ensure your crew is able to continue working productively (and safely)
  • Keep the project moving forward (hey, even if it’s moving slowly–it’s still moving!)
  • Limit citations for safety violations
  • Protect the overall project investment, equipment, work-ethic, etc.

Know When To Call It A Day

Know when you’re putting the safety of your crew and productivity of your site at risk. Heavy rain, frigid temperatures, high winds, ice or snow can put site and crew managers in a difficult position to “call it a day”. If you don’t call off the workday altogether, you may consider limiting work hours to only the warmest parts of the day or providing more frequent breaks.

When creating short and long term project timelines, be sure to account for inclement weather that could create project delays.

To avoid being caught off guard by weather changes, keep a close eye on the forecast and make judgment calls based on that. Then, have a plan in place to get the site and crew prepared. The National Weather Service is a reliable source for local weather information.

Maintain Functioning Equipment

When bad weather is looming, take steps to secure equipment, materials, and temporary structures to prevent potential damage. Store scaffolding, position cranes, secure loose materials like netting, tools, ladders, chutes, and other items that could shift or move during a storm.

Keep in mind some equipment on your site will feel the effects of weather more than others. Before use, equipment and vehicles should be warmed up properly and then inspected to determine whether they are functioning properly or if they require service.

Educate Crews On Winter Work Safety

While your crew should have a thorough understanding of how to work safely in all types of conditions, winter weather is especially critical. Educate your team on the hazards of working in winter weather and provide them with the knowledge to keep them safe.

Employers should encourage crew members to wear necessary personal protective equipment (PEE) for winter conditions. Layers of loose-fitting clothing will keep heat insulated and a layer to protect against wind and rain on top will provide additional comfort. If you get warm throughout the day you can easily remove a layer and continue working. Knit masks, warm hats, water-resistant gloves, and slip-proof insulated boots may also be necessary depending on the severity of the conditions.

Employees should be able to recognize the symptoms of cold-related injuries. This way, they can better monitor themselves and their coworkers to ensure safety throughout the site.

While many employers recognize the importance of providing their crew members with water on warm days, it’s just as important to maintain hydration on cold days. Warm liquids during breaks can keep people warm and hydrated.

Ensure Clear Work Surfaces

When temperatures drop and working surfaces become wet, the risk for injury is heightened. Falls are already one of the most common types of construction site accidents. In order to prevent slips, trips, and falls, all walking surfaces should be cleared of snow or ice and coated in ice melt or sand as quickly as possible. Surfaces should include roofs, ladders, scaffolding, roads, and so on.

Pick up loose debris, waste materials, and misplaced tools as frequently as possible to prevent a hidden hazard from causing injury. Never use scaffolds, aerial lifts, or ladders in ice, snow or wind! And keep your site stocked with floor mats and slippery surface signs for added coverage.

Cold Weather Concreting?

If your project timeline requires you to place concrete in the cold weather, there are a few things you’ll want to know:

  • What can go wrong while pouring concrete in cold weather conditions. More or less the problems you’ll face while cold weather concreting.
  • How your ready mix provider can help you overcome the problems associated with cold weather concreting. The changes a supplier can make to help your concrete withstand the cold temperatures.
  • The mistakes frequently made when cold weather concrete pouring. And how best to avoid making those mistakes yourself.

All of which we discuss in a previous blog post, Cold Weather Concreting 101.

Or check out one of our other blog posts centered around safety on the site, Concrete Construction Hazards With Solutions From OSHA.

As you can see, cold temperatures and inclement weather require rather specific measures to create a safe, productive construction site. While these extra steps are likely to slow your site and project timeline down, they ensure your project won’t be derailed by accidents, damage or loss. Through all of the uncertainty and risks winter weather adds to your project, you’ll want a supplier who is flexible. It’s critical that whoever you select as a supplier is willing to work with you if your timeline fluctuates.

For more on what to look for in a supplier, download a copy of our Guide To Pre-Qualifying Supplier. The guide will help you create a pre-qualification process that will allow you to narrow in on a shortlist of qualified suppliers.

Download The Contractors Guide To Pre-Qualifying Suppliers
winterize construction site

A Residential Home Builder’s Role In Preventing Fire and Fire Damage

A Residential Home Builder’s Role In Preventing Fire and Fire Damage

A house can easily catch fire. A week of hot, dry weather, a mishap in the kitchen, a curious child–it really doesn’t take much.

When it comes to preventing a fire from occurring or limiting the damage a fire can do to a home, there are measures that can be taken well before the homeowner even moves in.

Therefore, as a residential home planner, designer, architect, or builder, you play an important role in preventing home fires and fire damage. Constructing a home with the right materials, landscaping, and other firewise features can give the home a far better chance at withstanding a fire.

Measures A Residential Home Builder Can Take To Prevent Fire Damage

A Detached Garage Can Make All The Difference

Many fires in residential areas begin as vehicle fires. When a vehicle fire occurs in an outbuilding like a garage or storage shed where flammable materials like paint thinners and gasoline are often stored, it’s a recipe for disaster.

By keeping garages detached and storage sheds well separated (30 feet is the preferred minimum) from the main house, fires and the loss suffered from a fire can be prevented.

Fire Protection From The Top Down

Illegal fireworks, lightning strikes, chimney fires, sparks or other debris from a neighboring fire, arson–unfortunately, the opportunities for a fire to start on the roof of a home are endless and not that far fetched.

Organizations that test fire-resistant building materials have classified roofing materials as follows:

  • Class A materials are the most resistant (typically shingles containing fiberglass) and can withstand severe outside fire exposure.
  • Class B materials are less resistant and can withstand moderate outside fire exposure.
  • Class C materials (typically organic, like wood) are the least resistant and can withstand only mild outside fire exposure.

By installing materials that offer a high degree of fire resistance, you can help prevent fires from igniting on the roof and burning through an entire home. Some of the best materials for roofing:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Recycled rubber tiles
  • Clay or concrete tiles
  • Slate
  • Metal (copper, steel, zinc, stainless steel)

A few other things you can recommend homeowners do to keep their roof safe from fire include:

  • Keeping tree branches trimmed away from the roof.
  • Maintaining clean gutters (clear of debris that can fuel a fire).
  • Properly cleaning and operating the chimney and/or fireplace.

Screen possible entry points

To keep flaming materials from getting into critical areas of a home like attics, crawlspaces, and ductwork, all ventwork and vent openings should be constructed of metal products and have corrosive-resistant metal mesh screens.

Plan outdoor living spaces with care

Wood decks often provide fuel for fires and can be the reason an entire home burns. If you do use wood, it should be treated against fire. Better yet, consider building outdoor living areas with more fire-resistant building materials like stone or decorative concrete.

Today’s homeowners tend to value a home that is not only visually appealing but is structurally safe too. Concrete can add a fresh and unique look while also bringing durability and strength to an outdoor residential area.

Armor exterior and interior walls

When it comes to the exterior of a home, non-flammable materials such as fiber-cement siding, cultured stone, brick, or stucco are best. Avoid untreated wood and know that vinyl siding may be ok as long as a fire cannot find a route to burn too close to the house. All gaps and crevices beneath the vinyl must be sealed (or fire will find its way into the structure).

ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms)

ICF or insulated concrete form walls are becoming a popular option for multi-family residential builders. Not only do they make the building process quicker and easier, but they also create a structure that is durable, efficient, and safe.

See the side by side below that compares insulated concrete forms to conventional wood framing created by Build With Strength, a coalition of the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association.

home fire safety concrete forms

The system is made up of polystyrene blocks that fit together like legos to form a house’s shell. Filled with concrete–one of the most fire-and heat-resistant construction materials–ICFs create solid, insulated walls that can block anything out.

ICF walls have been known to withstand fire for up to four hours. While they can cost anywhere from 1-4% more than what you would pay for a wood frame house with no built-in fire protection, the many long-term benefits to ICFs are worth it in many homeowners’ eyes.

How You Can Actually Profit From Hazard Mitigation

As a company involved in the building industry, we understand that making a profit is your top priority. But do you place the safety and overall longevity of the structures you build high on your priority list too?

While the initial cost of investing in high quality, durable materials and resilient building techniques (hazard mitigation) may seem high, it can actually save more money in the long run. Researchers at MIT created the break-even percentage model to help those involved in the building process calculate the right amount to invest in hazard mitigation. Watch the video below to see what they found.



Using concrete as a building material on top of flame-resistant roofing, siding and the other fire preventative or safety measures listed will make for one safe residential building. There is no question about it–concrete is a resilient building material. While concrete has fire-resistant benefits, it can also help a building stand up against a number of other damaging conditions.

Need a concrete ready-mix for your next project? Download our Concrete Checklist: Get The Best Ready-Mix For Your Project. Your download will provide you with expert advice to make the ordering process easier, a guide to determining the PSI required of your mix, and an explanation of the other features you mix might need to include.

csc checklist guide

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home fire safety check