Updated January 2023
When the temperatures drop, the elements of the cold introduce barriers for construction workers that can hinder performance and productivity on the job. They can also pose a risk to one’s health and safety. X3’s #1 goal is to make sure that you have the tools and knowledge to be prepared for the elements that may affect your performance or put your safety at risk. Below are five great ways for tradesmen to stay warm on construction job sites.
1. Layers, Layers, & More Layers
Did we say layers? One of the most common ways to stay warm is by simply layering clothing. The standard of layering is to have 3 types of layers; a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. This layering strategy is proven to help keep you warm through the harshest of environments.
Base Layer (underwear)
Starting with a base layer or thermals is a great way to make sure that your body has something close to the skin keeping your natural body heat close to yourself while also allowing moisture to wick away from your skin and into the fabric of your clothing. Moisture and sweat directly on your skin is a recipe for a cold day at work so make sure to avoid this by investing in some high-quality thermals that will wick moisture away.
Middle Layer (insulation)
The middle layer is crucial for keeping in the heat your body naturally produces. The insulation that a thin-down jacket will provide makes sure that none of the heat your body produces is escaping.
Outer Layer (shell layer)
The outer layer and/or shell is meant to keep you protected from the direct elements that weather can throw at you including snow, rain, and wind. Typical shells are waterproof and are rated for various strengths of wind. Think of it this way, without a good shell, you are going into battle without any armor.
Remember, you can always take layers off but you won’t always have the luxury of adding additional layers once you have left your home.
2. Don’t Forget Your Head and Feet
Since the beginning of time, we have been told that you lose a large amount of body heat through your head and feet. Though we have no data to prove this, it is still something to take into account before heading off to work. It can be easy to forget proper headwear because it’s not every day that we leave the house with a beanie or something to keep our heads warm. Likewise, it can be easy to overlook the importance of insulated boots and wearing good socks that are made specifically for wicking moisture away from your feet to keep your feet dry and warm.
Though these items may not be as important as a good jacket or pants, we often overlook the importance of something to keep your head and feet warm which can lead to a miserable day on the job.
3. Protective Gloves
Hands are the most widely-used body part in construction, and keeping these warm is extremely important. Although the tendency for many workers is to remove their gloves and continue working, this only increases the chances of frostbite. Finding the right type of lightweight gloves can help workers keep their hands warm. If this still doesn’t work, glove liners are another option that you might consider. The most effective way to keep your hands warm is by using mittens, and a combination of a glove liner with mittens is ideal when taking breaks or resting in the cold.
4. Pocket/Hand Warmers
Though gloves are the most effective way to keep your hands safe from the elements, it is not always possible to operate equipment with them on. An alternative that you may consider is using pocket/hand warmers to keep your hands toasty. There are many options for this, including disposable, refillable, or rechargeable devices that you can typically buy online or in sporting goods stores. Investing as little as $30 can typically get you through an entire winter.
5. Stay Fueled
When the temperatures are cold, your body’s instinct is to turn up the heat. As your body produces heat to keep you warm, it is using more energy and burns more calories than it does on a typical day. It is very important to keep your body fueled with healthy and protein-focused food so that you don’t run out of gas. Bringing some additional snacks to eat throughout the day is a great way to ensure that your body can continue to produce and that you don’t become fatigued quickly.
Bonus Tip: Keep Extras in your Vehicle
While you may do your best to prepare every day for working in the cold weather, you cannot always predict the weather or the condition of a project site. You can walk into work with layers and hand warmers, but on some days, it may not enough. The next best thing you can do is keep extra items in your vehicle. Bring an extra pair of socks and shoes in case your current pair get wet. Keep extra gloves or shirts on hand for various reasons as well. Keep different styles of coats and jackets in your vehicle to not only help adjust to the conditions, but to also keep moisture from seeping into your layers.
Staying warm isn’t always the easiest to manage. As we’ve mentioned, adding layers upon layers is typically how most tradesmen find warmth during colder months. It’s also important to consider the circumstances of the job site you’re on. Preparing to work in an open air project versus a building that’s nearing completion require different approaches. Preparing your gear the night before and keeping extras in your vehicle are the best ways to be prepared.
Do you have any additional tips or tricks on how to stay warm on the job? Please leave a comment below!