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Winter in Construction: Maximising Productivity

Construction work often slows down in winter, with harsh conditions impacting productivity. Some sites may consider shutting down completely, but there are protective measures you can take to mitigate the effects of winter on equipment and materials to keep job sites running and costs down.

Read our guide to learn more about the impact of winter on construction and how to prepare for extreme conditions.

How does cold weather affect construction?

Colder weather can seriously impact your project – especially if you are working in extreme conditions. Working onsite becomes more challenging with less light and demanding weather conditions affecting everything from day-to-day tasks and deliveries, to the quality of materials.

Some of the ways cold weather affects construction include:

  • Fewer daylight hours means more lighting and heating, which means more power needed and associated costs.
  • Delayed deliveries – if travelling in poor weather, it can take longer for assets and materials, such as fuel, to arrive. Harsh conditions may also mean employees turn up late, as they need to travel slowly and safely.
  • Lower quality of materials – cold temperatures can affect some materials in several ways. For example, it can impact the chemical composition of certain bonding materials – meaning they may not work – and concrete can take longer to dry, lessening its strength.
  • Slows down day-to-day tasks – most tasks tend to take longer in the winter. Snow and ice may need to melt before getting on with the job, and cleaning up means moving equipment away from the elements while maintaining the temperature of other assets, like fuel. Workers also need to take extra breaks to warm up.
  • Days lost due to illness – More winter viruses mean employees are more likely to fall ill, leading to more days lost.

The number of risks that come with construction work in cold weather means that some site managers pause work until the worst of it passes. But you can avoid shutdowns and continue working in freezing conditions without stopping your operations.

Fuel tank powering generator in extreme weather.

How to deal with construction work in cold weather

Day-to-day operations will change as we move into winter, with health and safety considerations taking priority. Here are a few ways to mitigate risks and continue working through harsher conditions.

1. The impact on materials and equipment

Equipment and materials are expensive – and it’ll cost more to replace if damaged by the elements. Electric tools can freeze over, materials take longer to dry, and brake fluid may freeze, too, reducing the ability to apply brakes when driving equipment and fleet vehicles.

Ideally, indoor storage is needed to protect all equipment, but this isn’t always possible. In these instances, it’s important to increase your overall maintenance checks. You want to ensure that equipment is thoroughly cleaned to avoid mud, rainwater and debris build-up. Inspections should also expand to your wider site, marking slippery areas and clearing the ground of tripping hazards. Monitoring the weather forecast for your area can also help you plan tasks accordingly.

You must also maintain temperatures of fuels and other fluids to avoid condensation build-up and sediment from freezing inside a fuel tank. If the temperature is not maintained, purity can be compromised, leading to blockages and damage to generators and heaters.

Western Global’s fuel tanks provide complete convenience. In the case of our TransCube Global, the secondary tank removes the need for drip trays and is easily accessible for inspections via the inner hatch. The inner tank can be removed for cleaning and maintenance, all while storing your fuel in a safe, leak-free way. Read more about maintaining your fuel tank here.

Our fuel management systems also help you look after your fuel stock. You’ll receive alerts when fuel runs low, allowing you to refill before that bottom-of-the-tank sludge freezes and blocks fuel lines. Paired with our filter packages, you’ll have the ultimate fail-safe refuelling system to get you through winter.

2. Using the right fuel tanks for winter storage

As mentioned above, reliable fuel storage during the colder seasons is crucial. Your fuel is what powers your project. If you run out of fuel, you’ll need to quickly pay for more stock and arrange fuel delivery safely and promptly. Winter conditions may also cause roads to be dangerous, so travel may be slower than usual, causing project interruptions.

Fuel storage must be durable, lockable and fully contained. If the fuel tank is not up to scratch, you may experience many problems, such as leaks, contamination, or theft.

Fuel theft increases in winter, with darker days and quieter sites providing ample opportunity. Our fuel tanks come with many features that help reduce the risk of theft, including:

  • A bunded design for environmental compliance, keeping your fuel out of reach from potential theft. 
  • Lockable equipment cabinet
  • Strong steel structure that’s secure and reliable

Read our guide to preventing fuel theft.

Thieves are not all you should be wary of when doing construction work in colder weather. Steel contracts when temperatures drop, and the risk of leaks and spills increases. This is where having a robust, reliable winter fuel tank can help, reducing the chances of cracks, dents and erosion.

At Western Global, we specialise in bunded tanks manufactured from steel. Our fuel tanks are 100% weatherproof and can withstand extreme conditions. Our tanks allow you to store fuel in bulk, reducing fuel deliveries onsite and increasing overall productivity. This also helps minimise onsite traffic – especially during slippery, dark conditions.

And if you’re storing AdBlue onsite, where robust winter storage is vital, we can help there, too. We have two tanks to choose from: the 22DEF is ideal for larger projects, or the 05DEF for smaller sites. Both are bunded tanks and come with features that help aid temperature control and maintain the purity of your AdBlue.

 

3. Working on frozen ground

Frozen conditions can cause some severe problems for your project. Extremely wet or icy ground increases slippage risk, potentially leading to health and safety issues for your site. The frozen ground also hinders excavation work and equipment performance. Wet and frozen conditions mean more wear and tear on vehicle tracks, potentially resulting in more damage.

According to the Health and Safety Executive, there were 565,000 non-fatal injuries in 2021/2022. Slips, trips and falls caused the majority of these injuries. Bring icy conditions into the equation, and these risks are even higher.

Maintaining a safe working environment for employees moving around the site is essential. Simple tasks include using grit and covering walkways, as well as using enough lighting towers to navigate the darker days. More power is required to keep lighting towers and heaters running, so bulk fuel storage is ideal for winter construction. With our TransCube, you can power heaters and lighting towers simultaneously, ensuring you can work smoothly from start to finish.

Follow the proper health and safety procedures and ensure that all employees know how to respond to any possible hazards. Regular refresher training will also keep safety at the top of the priority list.

Thoroughly clearing your site throughout the day helps keep your site clear. Inspect your fuel tank regularly to identify leaks and spills early on.

 

4. Reducing delays and shutdowns

Our fuel tanks provide an uninterrupted power supply that keeps you up and running, no matter the circumstances. When you connect your heaters and generators to a Western Global tank, you can extend runtimes from 24 hours up to 7 days, fuelling up to three pieces of equipment simultaneously.

Onsite bulk fuel storage makes tracking your fuel usage easier. You can also purchase fuel in advance, capitalising on lower prices when possible – especially important when using heaters regularly during freezing temperatures. Planning ahead saves costs, reduces waiting times, and increases productivity.

Extending run times with the TransCube Global

Become winter-ready with Western Global.

With Western Global fuel tanks, you can extend the run times of heaters, generators, and other equipment for longer. They can be forklifted straight onto sites, reducing fuel deliveries, costs and resources—all while increasing overall productivity on site. 

The TransCube Global is robust and reliable, protecting your fuel, equipment, and employees during colder months. Its 110% bunded design and strong galvanised frame add an extra layer of protection, preventing exposure to the elements and reducing the risk of leaks and spills. 

Our fuel tanks provide peace of mind, with fewer fuel deliveries, reduced safety risks, and lower fuel costs. Take back control this winter and easily complete projects, no matter the weather. 

Click to find out more about our fuel tanks for heaters, or if you have a project in mind, speak to our team today. 

TransCube Global

A TransCube Global Fuel Tank.

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