What to do when working in strong winds?


When working outside, the weather conditions can create unsafe or unhealthy situations. For example, strong winds can obstruct work or even make it impossible to carry on. Strong winds or storms are one of the most underestimated dangers. They increase the risk of accidents at work, especially if you’re working at a height or if there is a risk of materials coming loose. It’s important to use your common sense on windy days. Here are some tips to get you thinking about your safety at work.

The dangers of strong winds

  • Risk of falling or of people becoming trapped, particularly when working at a height
  • Risk of unsecured objects being blown away, such as payloads, mobile scaffolds, roofing materials, safety cages, and suspended scaffolding
  • Risk of damage to unstable objects such as cranes, cherry pickers, scaffolding, and ladders
  • Risk of loose or unsecured parts or materials being blown away, such as sheets, insulation material, materials in and on waste containers, loose soil, sand, branches, etc.

The risk is greater at unstable work sites, such as suspended scaffolding, ladders, safety cages, cherry pickers, and tankers.

What are the rules?

At gale force 6:

The maximum working height is 10 metres. Work outside on aluminium rolling towers must be suspended.

  • At gale force 7 (strong wind) or above:
  • Work is permitted up to a maximum working height of 3 metres.
  • Lifting operations with mobile cranes must be suspended.
  • Tarpaulins and welding tents, etc., must be removed.
  • Pile-driving operations for pre-cast concrete piles must be suspended.
  • Movable suspended platforms must be lowered.
  • Work on tank roofs must be suspended.
  • Work outside above 40 metres must be suspended.

At gale force 9 and above:
All work on scaffolding must be suspended. After the storm, the scaffolding must be checked before the workers climb it again.

Tips and measures for working in strong winds

Safety is the top priority. Come to an agreement with your employer about work activities in the event of strong winds. Don’t be afraid to stop working because of the risks. Take steps to prevent materials from being blown around and blown away. Where possible and in discussion with your employer, change the work schedule to suit extreme weather conditions. In the Netherlands, the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) often provides reliable weather forecasts. Don’t be caught off guard by the weather! Identify the risks of outdoor work. Are you at risk if there are strong winds? Then make sure you are aware of the possible consequences, use your common sense, and follow the rules.

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