Construction and maintenance crews often have to work in extreme conditions like mountainsides, ice caps, or deserts. While the types of conditions vary greatly, the common concern of safety never changes. Managers and crew foreman should make sure the crews are trained and equipped to handle the situations associated with any rugged environment.

 Steep Terrain

Steep or rocky hillsides are a common obstacle for work crews all around the world. These rugged areas can be particularly hazardous in wet or icy conditions and, in some cases, work must be stopped if the lack of traction creates unacceptable risk. Even under the best of conditions, productivity is reduced, adding to the cost and time required for any project. Crew leaders should also recognize that moving around on a steep slope is tiring and may require additional breaks for workers. Operators of heavy equipment such as loaders or tractors also need to be aware of roll-over risks when working on slopes. Never operate equipment across the slope but drive equipment up or down the hillside.

Rocks and Trees

Nature has clogged some work sites with rocks and trees. Depending on the task, heavy equipment may be required to move rocks out of the way. Trees can be cut using chain saws but may require trucks or tractors to remove the trunks and branches from the area. Cutting the trees down is often just part of the project. The roots need to be removed if the project includes any excavations. This often requires a backhoe or excavator. Brush can be cut using hand tools and drug by hand clear of the site for smaller projects. Some projects attempt to leave as much of the natural features in place. This requires advance planning and may reduce the amount of work that can be done with heavy equipment.

Lack of Access

Some rugged areas lack improved road access. This can make it more difficult to bring in equipment and supplies. Unpaved roads rapidly deteriorate in wet conditions which can also limit the number of days workers can reach a worksite in a rugged area. If the project requires delivery of equipment of materials by large truck roads and bridges may be an issue, so foremen should be careful when scheduling deliveries, especially from heavy trucks. The transportation company is responsible for meeting any load restrictions which may require more trips by trucks carrying lighter loads.

Inclement Weather

Inclement weather in some areas can make work at an outdoor site difficult. Working in wet conditions is not only uncomfortable for the crew but can pose a danger when using electric power tools. Cold and snowy weather can also slow progress and may require the suspension of work under extreme conditions. Frequent breaks in a warm shelter can help the crew maintain productivity under cold weather conditions. High winds can also pose a hazard especially if the work is being done at height or the crews are working with sheet materials such as plywood.

Wild Animals

Rugged areas are often the preferred habitat of wild animals. Most of the wildlife will harmlessly flea the area when the work site becomes active. Some can pose a hazard to working crews. Poisonous snakes are the most serious concern although skunks and other vermin can also pose threats. Use particular care around rocks and downed trees, especially at the start of the project, to avoid contact with any of the critters that have previously called the rugged environment home.


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