Construction industry workers are well aware of how hazardous most of their tasks are as they are exposed to various forms of high level of risks. Majority of the dangerous situations construction workers encounter are related to severe weather conditions in form of heavy rain, strong wind and storm, lightning, fog, or extreme temperature.
These risks, especially those posed by unfavourable weather conditions makes site safety one of the most important parameters for effective management of construction projects. Besides, it is very difficult and almost impossible to achieve timely and cost-efficient completion of construction project when confronted with unfavourable weather. This means that construction workers need accurate and highly reliable weather data to manage construction resources efficiently and ensure their safety.
Effects of Poor Weather Conditions on Construction Process
- Loss of Investment: Though most construction firms are accustomed to the weather patterns within their area of business operation and have been able to gather enough data and experience to manage any situations, at times unusual weather conditions sometimes caused by climate change has made weather to become unpredictable. Many countries in the world now experience unusual weather patterns that cost the construction industries money and put construction investments at risk.
- Destruction of Materials: Extreme weather conditions, alongside other factors, have caused destruction to building infrastructures, commercial buildings and homes, making many investors shy away from investing in the industry or abandon the areas affected for other places.
- Equipment Damage: Weather affects the performance of construction equipment. For instance, dry weather makes the job site very dusty, resulting in jam and clog machines. Strong wind is also capable of straining equipment and cause breakage. Hot weather can reduce the efficacy of some materials while heavy rain damages materials and unprotected equipment.
- Scarcity of Materials: Unfavourable weather makes it very hard to source and purchase construction materials. Scarcity can cause increment in the cost of materials. Flooding in places where natural resources are extracted, for instance, can result in shortage of resources used to make construction materials. Drought can prevent cause scarcity of water on construction sites. Erosion disrupts tasks on job sites by leading to shortages of sand.
Construction Weather Challenges
- Heavy rain: Heavy rain makes work messy and unpleasant. It reduces visibility of vehicle drivers and makes the ground muddy. All these pose risks to the health and safety of workers on job sites.
- Rain causes flooding without warning in many places. Flood put equipment at risk and poses danger to life.
- Precipitation: Precipitation makes construction sites become saturated and affects site operations such as concrete pouring. Precipitation also causes delays and affects project schedule.
- Lightning: Lightning poses significant health and safety risks for construction workers. For instance, cranes cannot be operated on job sites if lightning occurs.
- Wind and storm: If windstorm exceeds a certain limit, it will be difficult tasks, especially those that involved height, to be carried out. Wind increases with height, so, it is important to calculate how high one wants to be lifted. Wind that blows from the rear may cause load to swing away from the crane and result in crash.
- Extreme temperature: Extreme temperature increases potential for accidents on job sites. Workers working in cold places are at risk of poor visibility as a result of frozen windscreen. On the other hand, hot temperature causes dehydration and sunstroke which may affect judgement, especially around heavy vehicle or operating machinery. High temperatures can also lead to overheating and fire risks to machines and flammable materials.
Staying One Step Ahead with Weather Applications and Software
Weather forecast applications and software can be used to guide against the unexpected delays and extra costs caused to construction projects by extreme weather. They can also be used to get accurate weather data in order to mitigate weather risks for many projects. Some of these applications and software are listed below.
- UBIMET Weather Cockpit: This is a professional weather application that gives construction companies clarity during planning activities. It has important weather parameters for the exact site that are tailored to match exact requirements. It gives site managers access to specialised weather forecasts for the coming days, and all workers will receive precise weather warnings via SMS and/or e-mail for critical weather events. This makes it possible to decide in plenty of time whether construction work has to be postponed for safety reasons or can take place without problems.
- Met Office Weather App: This app, which offers hourly updates and 5-day forecast, is accepted as the authority on providing accurate weather forecasts for construction sites. It gives detailed maps and informative text summaries, with notifications of severe weather warnings. The app is also said to help project managers provide essential information to their team.
- BBC App: Renowned for easy-usability, BBC App provides hourly information and a 10-day weather forecast, depending on your location. The app also allows construction workers to add several key locations and quickly view the latest weather information. It is simple and is the ideal solution.
- Weather Channel: Apart from the Apps mentioned above, Weather Channel can also be used to monitor weather, for detailed weather forecasts. It provides maps, forecasts, and up-to-date news.
Features to Look out for in Effective Weather Applications
An efficient weather forecast app should provide highly accurate live weather information and forecasts. It should also offer the following solutions.
- It should have overview of current and future weather conditions in real time
- It should provide high quality data through integration of weather radar, satellite and lightning measurement
- Planning calendar overview
- Set parameters, rules and limits for working conditions
- Easy site selection and user management
- Weather-related warnings when parameter thresholds are exceeded.
- Severe weather warnings provided by meteorologists
- Ability to precisely define user groups receiving alerts
- Distributing early warnings via the Weather Cockpit, e-mail and text message
- Integration of data into company-specific software
- Documentation of weather as an integral part of the construction solution
- Archive of weather conditions detected on construction sites
- Save, send and print reports
Getting accurate weather forecast will help forestall unforeseeable problems which are capable of affecting construction projects and compromising the safety of both materials and workers.