Adverse, or inclement, weather can be defined many different ways across many different occupations and events. There is one general idea of what constitutes as adverse weather in construction, though. Any weather that impedes the labor force to do their jobs successfully or at the maximum rate is considered to be inclement.
Such weather includes high or low temperature, all forms of precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, etc.), high winds, lightning, fog, and high or low humidity. Any of these weather conditions can prove to create a high-risk environment at the construction site.
Some extreme adverse weather can be in the likes of a hurricane, tornado, flood, or any natural disaster.
The Impact of Weather
These adverse conditions can have many effects on a construction site.
Strong winds can be extremely dangerous to a construction site, especially if a worker or loose materials is at a high altitude. If a worker is at a high altitude and a gust of wind comes through the site, they could be knocked clean off whatever surface they’re standing on. Also, the wind could potentially cause loose materials, such as roof tiles, to travel at high speeds and hit a laborer. If the wind is extremely strong, it may be loud enough to block out the sound of the vehicles on the site, which would be a major disruption.
There is always a great deal of metal on a construction site, whether it be equipment, vehicles, or materials. If there is a thunderstorm where lightning is very prevalent, then that construction site becomes a hotspot for the lightning, which creates an extremely dangerous environment for the workers. The lightning could potentially cause electrocution, fires, and even explosions.
Precipitation in general is detrimental to the schedule of a construction job, no matter what form of water is falling from the sky. Heavy rain causes visibility issues, especially for the ones driving the vehicles around the site. The rain also causes a muddy surface, which can cause, both, workers and vehicles to slip. A project can take a major blow if it snows, because it causes a visibility issue while it is coming down, it accumulates on everything (the ground, materials, vehicles, etc.), and it takes a while to melt like the picture below.
Temperature extremes can cause a number of issues. If it is too hot, workers may struggle with heat stroke and dehydration. They could also get badly sunburned. Whether it be the sunburn or the temperature, workers are more inclined to remove their PPE, which increases the risk of injury or even death. Extremely cold conditions can cause workers to face frostbite and the vehicles’ windshields fog up more, which impedes their vision.
How to Prepare for Weather
There are many different ways to prepare for adverse weather when planning a project. However, there is no clear solution as each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. My favorite is the easiest to implement and seems to be the one that makes sense is using weekend non-work days to make up for other days lost to the weather. It is easy, because they do not have to do anything different: it is just like a normal work day except on the weekend. Some disadvantages of this is that the subcontractors may expect overtime and there needs to be extra supervision over the weekend. However, the easy implementation makes it worth it in the end, in my mind at least.