Just as you would prepare your home and family for an impending hurricane, you’ll also want to prepare your construction job sites. The steps you take could make a significant difference in how well your construction site fares during the hurricane and how soon your workers can return afterwards.
Be certain to keep in contact with local emergency operations officials and the National Weather Service for the most up-to-date hurricane landfall probabilities.
BEFORE THE STORM
3-5 days before expected landfall:
- Review your schedule to identify critical path materials/equipment deliveries and installations for the next one to two weeks. Call the contractor or supplier to halt delivery or reroute to a safe location.
- Ensure that critical path materials and equipment are properly secured and that you have adequate insurance coverage to provide protection in case of a loss. This includes any off-site storage facility used to house building materials and equipment.
- Call a mandatory jobsite safety meeting to communicate emergency action planning. Outline necessary precautions that all contractors on site must take, including material and equipment securement, proper tool storage and removal, securement of the structure and any other preparations.
2-3 days before expected landfall: Consider canceling the delivery of common building materials to your job site except those materials needed to secure the building site from storm damage. Any loose material can cause significant damage to the building or adjacent property.
1-2 days before expected landfall: Stop construction activities onsite and begin final site protection.
- Lower all ground-based crane booms and properly secure.
- Attend to any tower crane onsite
- At a minimum, make sure that the crane is left with the jib luffed up in parking position if a luffing jib is in use.
- If a hammerhead or flat top crane is in use, make sure the hook block is brought back to the jib and left slightly away from the cabin. This will ensure that the hook block will not blow in the wind freely and hit the cabin.
- Release the crane parking brake and leave it in free slew when high winds are expected. For safety, ensure that nothing can make contact with the jib within a 360-degree radius around the crane.
- Clean up and remove all construction debris.
- Tie or band all loose plywood, lumber and sheet metal. To prevent looting, make certain the materials stay out of plain site.
- Secure all loose building materials and supplies. Consider placing all roofing materials, especially foam, inside the building and properly secured or in nearby off-site storage.
- Remove necessary computer equipment, vital records including redlines and any other important project information from the jobsite trailer.
- Secure or remove all flammable tanks and bottles.
- Remove the permit board and all jobsite signage. Zip ties are no match for hurricane force winds.
- Locate and turn off all electricity, water and gas.
24 hours prior to expected landfall: Advise all subcontractors to leave and not return until the hurricane threat has passed. Have an updated contact list for all subcontractors stored in a secure, dry place. Let them know who will contact them after the hurricane passes.
AFTER THE STORM
Assessing the damage: After the storm has passed AND local authorities have given the go-ahead, return to the project site to assess damage and start cleanup.
- Use extreme caution when navigating every area of the project site, especially those with standing water, as the accompanying sharp or jagged debris could pose a danger.
- Use the same care when entering a building after a storm; depending on the extent of the damage, some structural elements could be compromised.
If you’ve experienced damage, contact your insurance agent to start the claims process.
Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit, Federal Emergency Management Agency
This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article.