We're entering the fall season here in Utah, which means the cold winter is around the corner. Many contracting jobs push forward regardless of the weather; however, contractors who are performing these jobs need to know how to keep themselves warm without detracting from their abilities to carry out the work.
At Contractors School, we offer a variety of services to not only help you obtain your contractor's license and start a new contracting business but also to help maintain your existing contracting business in several ways. While many of our assistance areas to existing businesses are in areas like managing business entity, changing your business name, and other details, we're also happy to offer our expertise in any area you need assistance in. If you recently started a new contracting business and this is your first time operating through the winter season, here are some basic tips on staying warm without impacting job quality.
The cold air during the winter will cause your muscles to contract, especially if you are working physical labor or carrying out high-intensity tasks. Before you head out to the job site for the day, take a few moments to stretch your muscles and get your blood flowing.
You may want to start with a few minutes of cardio, such as jumping jacks or running for ten minutes on the treadmill. After you're warmed up and ready to go, carry out stretches that focus on areas like your hips and hamstrings, which are used most throughout the day.
In addition, if there are areas of your body that commonly ache, especially in the cold, take time to stretch the muscles in that area. For example, your knees will probably start hurting after walking or standing on a job site for an extended period of time, so it may be beneficial to stretch out your legs before leaving the house.
And for many, performing a number of stretches after a day's work is completed can also help. Increase your flexibility, increase the benefits of your workouts, and make it easier to get out of bed in the morning by stretching out after work before you go to bed at night.
Just like in any other cold setting, you need to have the right gear for your contracting business if you're going to stay safe and warm. The key here is layering, layering, and more layering.
Some of the simplest items that should always come with you to the job site on cold days include gloves, hats, ear warmers, socks, and insulated shoes. Try to avoid clothing items that are overly bulky, as bulky clothing can make operating power tools difficult.
For additional warmth, make sure to wear the appropriate clothes under your work clothes too. Wearing a long-sleeve shirt underneath a short sleeve may seem like a simple thing, but it will help keep you warm throughout the day and also decrease the amount of time you spend freezing at the job site.
It's always good to vary up tasks on the job site throughout the year, in part to avoid overuse injuries or related concerns, and this practice can even be increased in cold weather. Many tasks performed on the job site during the winter require you to stay in one place for an extended period of time, like using a jackhammer or carrying lumber. To help increase your body temperature and decrease the effects of the cold without lifting any additional weight, it may be beneficial to switch between tasks frequently.
For example, you can carry tools back and forth between a truck or job site trailer to the worksite itself, then set them down before returning for more. Not only will this help keep your body temperature up without adding additional weight, but it's also good practice in general because you'll have fewer items on hand at one time.
Even if you've taken all the steps you can to make yourself warm, you may still start to feel the effects of the cold after several hours on the job site. When this happens, take a break with your fellow employees and warm yourselves up with some hot chocolate or coffee.
This is the same concept as a hot summer day -- you'd never work for hours consecutively in 95-degree heat, would you? The same goes for cold weather. It may be difficult to get up and walk away from the task at hand, but even spending five minutes warming yourself up in your vehicle before heading back out onto the worksite can make a huge difference for your body's core temperature.
And finally, while contractors will indeed push through a number of weather circumstances, there are extreme examples where this just won't be realistic for anyone. During a major blizzard, for instance, you should either be at home or somewhere else where you'll stay warm.
Extreme cold can cause frostbite and other dangerous conditions if not treated properly. If it is too cold to work on the job site without risking physical damage to yourself, simply wait until the weather clears up before doing so.
If you're scheduling jobs during what you expect will be a period of poor weather, it's good to communicate this with your clients ahead of time, so you have a common understanding. You can also ask for more money based on the colder temperature, although it may be a good idea to avoid this approach if at all possible because you don't want to offend anyone or lose a client.
For more on keeping warm on the job site as a contractor during the upcoming cold season, or to learn about any of our contractor's exam prep or other services, speak to the staff at Contractors School today.