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  • Writer's pictureCS Energy

Winter Construction Safety 101: Q&A with Kevin McGill, EHS Manager at CS Energy

With declining costs of solar energy systems, government incentives, increased environmental awareness, and advancements in solar technology efficiency, utility-scale solar projects continue to proliferate. However, as we are increasingly harnessing the power of the sun to generate clean and abundant electricity, it is imperative that we prioritize safety in the construction of these projects. Ensuring safety on utility-scale solar projects during the winter time in particular requires a multifaceted approach. From meticulous planning and rigorous construction standards to ongoing monitoring protocols, Kevin McGill, EHS Manager at CS Energy, shared the critical measures and best practices essential for creating a secure environment on every utility-scale solar project. 

What are the top safety risks CS Energy faces during the winter season & how can these be addressed? 

Kevin: “The first challenge is ice and snow, which create slippery conditions. We address this by requiring ice cleats to prevent people from falling. Second, snow can often cover items that can become a tripping hazard. To mitigate this risk, we ask sites to have a material management plan and map so they know where things are located when covered with snow. The third challenge is that cold weather makes it more difficult to work efficiently. We always make sure there are warming stations, typically vehicles, for people to get into to warm up. Lastly, there are fewer daylight hours within which to work during the winter. We overcome this issue by implementing light towers, which are required if work will be conducted when there is no daylight.”

How does CS Energy prepare the rest of the year to ensure the highest level of safety during winter? 

Kevin: “We hold ‘toolbox talks’ discussing working in winter conditions, including how to dress for the weather. We also talk about preparing for winter in our weekly Safety & Quality huddles. We make sure sites have winter plans in place before the first snowfall, which include preparations such as a plow contractor, salt/sand, shovel, and ice cleats. As a result of all of our safety planning initiatives, we have been able to ensure the utmost protection of our staff while also drastically reducing the number of lost work days as a result of injuries.”

Is CS Energy noticing that winter conditions are becoming more extreme or severe? If so, what additional precautions has the company taken to maintain safety in light of this? 

Kevin: “Each winter is very different. This is why we always prepare for a harsh, difficult winter every year, just in case. If it happens to be a more mild winter, we are fully prepared. If it ends up being a harsh winter, we will also be prepared for that. By preparing for the worst, we are ready no matter how severe the winter is.”

Why is safety so important to CS Energy?

Kevin: “Safety is a high priority for CS Energy for many reasons. First, it helps us hire and retain good employees. People want to work for a company that will ensure they do not get hurt. Second, clients want safe projects. They do not want to explain why their project is in the news for a serious injury. Third, it helps make the company more profitable. By keeping injuries low, we spend less on medical care and workers compensation insurance, which supports the company’s bottom line and enables us to focus on building more solar projects. Safety is without a doubt a core value at CS Energy, as it is a consideration in all that we do.”

By emphasizing safety at every stage of the project lifecycle, CS Energy not only protects the well-being of those involved but also fortifies the resilience and longevity of our solar energy infrastructure. If you have any questions about how CS Energy ensures utmost safety on each utility-scale solar project, get in touch with CS Energy to learn more.


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