Winter builder safety: rules may change, but the workday goes on

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 6:14 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Home builders, contractors and others around Bismarck are still seen out working, even when the temperature goes down and even when the snow flies. The snow and cold can change how job sites run, but they typically don’t stop work.

“It affects which ones we can do and what we can do on them, you know, we can’t really be doing concrete work in the dead of winter because the ground is frozen, can’t do a lot of digging there. It really affects where we can work — you don’t really want to send guys far out of town when the forecast isn’t looking great,” said Tristan Hartl, project manager at Hopfauf Custom Builders.

Many might think snow would cause big problems for construction workers, but for those who have built through many years of winter conditions — it’s just another part of the job.

“Like I said, it’s basically just making sure the snow and ice are going to be cleared off of wherever you’re going to be working at. If it’s on a roof, you try to sweep the roof down and get the ice removed,” said Brian Steffl, construction foreman for Hopfauf.

Although the show goes on for builders and contractors snow or shine, one thing that does change is safety measures for workers on the roof.

“If guys are anything above four feet off the ground, you have to be tied off, you can’t just be working freely above four feet. We try to keep our guys off of roofs in the wintertime. We try to really focus on that being nice weather work,” said Hartl.

Safety measures and planning ahead are important for the actual labor, but Hartl and Steffl agree, the most important thing to consider is their employees and coworkers and making sure they get to and from job sites safely.

On average, Hopfauf Custom Builders will finish about 30 projects during the winter season.