The first question you may want to ask is why night time construction? Imagine engaging in construction activities during day time when there is heat and increased daytime activities, and compare it with the cooler temperatures, little congestion, and less traffic associated with the night time.
You will agree that the night time conditions make construction work easier, faster, and safer for the crew, customers, and the general public.
Article by KEP Services for aftermarket truck parts in the UK.
Why night time construction?
Having less activity and traffic during the night time is not the only reason to engage in night time construction. Let’s take a look at a few other benefits.
In terms of traffic, you are delaying no motorists by working at night. There is a reduced risk of traffic accidents. Less traffic interference offers more flexibility to your work zone. In addition, your workers are safe from the emissions from vehicles, and you end up burning less fuel because vehicles do not have to wait to pass through the work zone.
In terms of construction, the cooler temperatures ensure the concrete settles faster. The work zone is generally cooler and more comfortable, so productivity is at its highest. You are not intruding on businesses which otherwise may suffer from the construction activities during the day. Lastly, it costs less to set up and run a nighttime operation than during the day.
Generally, you operate with lower costs when you do construction during off-peak hours. That said, we must also note the few challenges associated with night time construction. For example, you will be contending with dust, excessive vibration and noise, and poor lighting. However, the overall coordination is better, and there are fewer risks, most of which you can spot and tackle faster and better.
How do you deal with poor lighting?
Lighting plays a vital role in night time construction, especially regarding efficiency and safety. Your workers and the general public need adequate lighting if you are doing night time construction. Here are a few things to consider when choosing the right lighting equipment for your construction site;
When working on mobile construction sites, e.g., paving operations, adopt a lighting plan that includes stationary lighting for the entire work area.
For stationary work zones, consider installing roadway luminaries on poles or trailer-mounted light towers. The former is more suited for lengthier projects.
The glare is another essential consideration. Minimize the effect of glare from your lighting on-site workers and motorists using the right blocks and shields.
Invading light that gets into private property can cause issues. Fortunately, you can avoid them by getting your positioning right and choosing the right lighting shields.
Acquiring your lighting equipment depends on your needs, but you either buy or rent construction lighting, depending on your project specifics.
How do you deal with the noise?
You cannot eliminate noise when it comes to construction. We mentioned earlier that night time construction comes with increased noise and vibrations. However, you can do a few things to manage the situation and keep the work zone as silent as possible. For instance, there are curtains and noise barriers that limit excessive noise.
Equipment like crushers, milling/grinding machines, hoe rams, slamming tailgates, and backup alarms are the major sources of construction site noise. Also worthy of note are equipment running on diesel engines, alongside the transmission, cooling fan, air intake, and tires.
Dealing with noise properly and keeping the decibel levels low means you will not be flouting the strict sanctions of government authorities on night time construction sites.
For alarm-related construction noise, assigning a worker to monitor reversing trucks and equipment is recommended. You can also adopt manually-adjusting or self-adjusting alarms instead of backup alarms.
Do not keep idle equipment running when not in use. Adopt a construction zone plan that ensures noisy equipment is not close to sensitive areas. Avoid very noisy equipment when possible.
If you are using jackhammers, use a noise tent around it and do not use within 200 ft. of noise-sensitive areas. An exhaust muffler can also help keep the noise down.
You can control the noise from slamming tailgates by closing the tailgates gently. Having dedicated staging areas for truck cleanouts also works. Introduce rubber gaskets and belly dump trailers or dump trucks without tailgates.
How do you deal with dust and vibrations?
Another challenge to contend with during night time construction is the dust generated and vibrations from operating certain equipment. Of course, there will always be dust in the work zone, whether it is day time or night time. But it is more of an issue during the night time because it is more visible then, thanks to the artificial lighting.
Including a dust control strategy in your construction work plan is highly recommended. You can deal with dust by dampening the ground with water trucks. You can also use different hydraulic brooms to regularly clear your construction site ground.
When it comes to vibrations, the most difficult to deal with are those within the low-frequency range, say 1 Hz to 100 Hz. These vibrations can cause damage to buildings nearby, especially the weak ones. It is even bigger if you have monumental buildings or functional laboratories with equipment and sensitive devices.
Ensure you understand how the vibration produced on your work site affects your environment. And create a section that addresses these concerns in your night time construction work plan.
Overall Night Time Construction Safety
Safety in a construction zone is important during the day and even more important when working during the night time. There are several risks and site hazards you must identify and deal with before bringing workers to the site. The specifics of these risks for night time construction depend on the project type.
Start by assessing all potential risks and devise ways to prevent or tackle any occurrence. There should be ongoing monitoring to ensure the plan is effective as expected, and, if not, adjusted or modified as necessary.
Potential construction site risks include low visibility, noise levels, working conditions, lighting glares, air quality, high vehicle speeds, staffing challenges, traffic control, and workers’ and drivers’ alertness. Of course, the exact risks of every work zone differ and often depend on the site conditions, timelines, adopted equipment, and other contact details. All of these often determine the dynamics of the risk management plan.
Worker Safety is Crucial
Maintaining a safe work zone is important for two major reasons – it helps you meet the necessary legal requirements and keep everyone safe and happy. Other perks include minimizing downtime and costs by reducing accidents and setbacks.
In addition to putting necessary measures in place as discussed above, you can also set up safety training for everyone on-site and provide highly visible outer garments available to everyone. It is best to introduce safe training as soon as workers come on board, and this should be backed by regular safety talks during operations.
To wrap things up
Adequate planning is crucial to having a safe and productive work zone during night construction. Night time construction has its peculiarities, different from what you are used to during day construction. However, these challenges can be tackled with the proper construction work plan.
To recap, create a safety plan, orientate and train workers on safety, implement a safety incentive program, and investigate all oversights on safety and accidents. These will make your construction zone highly safe, and every worker performing at their best.