This time of year, Australia faces extreme weather conditions. With blazing heat to sudden temperature drops, severe storms can strike suddenly.
This means construction sites must have an effective action plan that can be quickly and easily implemented. This is especially important during the storm season, generally from September to March, when high levels of solar energy increase the likelihood of volatile storm events. There are a number of points to consider:
Location: The storm season characteristics and time frame vary slightly across different regions of Australia, so finding out when they are most likely to occur is important. Check weather records to ascertain whether the area is prone to storms and what type of storms are prevalent. Thunderstorms, lightning storms, hail storms and windstorms all require slightly different action plans.
Precautionary actions: Some precautionary measures may be implemented to maximize your ability to quickly prepare a site for a storm. This includes trimming loose and overhanging branches in close proximity to the site and preparing an emergency plan. Consider subscribing to an SMS weather alert, which sends weather updates to your mobile phone.
Get to know the layout of the site, and install signs detailing emergency exits so they are conspicuously displayed. Familiarise everyone with the action plan, how to use safety equipment and notify them of updates to the procedure.
Immediate actions: On receiving a severe storm warning, some immediate actions may be implemented before taking shelter. Depending on the time frame and nature of the site, it could be safer to stay put or move to more secure shelter. Move loose materials and rubbish to an isolated area, preferably somewhere it is unlikely to cause damage, such as inside a shipment container. Move or cover vehicles to protect them from flying debris. Close any doors and windows, and disconnect electrical supplies.
During the storm: Get inside and find the most secure part of the structure, clear of windows and doors. If in a vehicle, park clear of power lines and bodies of water. If outdoors, find solid shelter, avoiding trees and open spaces. Remember to remain sheltered until receiving notification from authorities that the storm has passed.
It is important to understand that aspects of the action plan may become more important and change depending on the phase of construction, which should be addressed at weekly safety meetings. While preparation for storms and relevant action plans may seem tedious when the weather is fine, conditions can turn dangerous very quickly. Investing time and effort in taking precautions could save you money in damages and protect staff against injury and death.