While not unique to North America, tornadoes happen way more frequently here than on any other continent in the world. In 2022, Canada saw 117 recorded tornadoes according to the Northern Tornadoes Project.  

Tornadoes are unmistakable rotating columns of high-velocity wind that bring devastation to anything in their path. They are difficult to predict. Sometimes they move quickly and can leave a wide swath of destruction. At other times a tornado can be small, touching down sporadically and leaving a haphazard path of damage. In either case, they can uproot trees, flip cars and demolish houses. 

Tornadoes And Construction Safety. Tornado protection is not only important on the job site but also in how homes and buildings are designed and constructed. As such, awareness of weather conditions and where tornadoes are most likely to occur, as well as what precautions can be taken to reduce the number of deaths and have employees stay safe, is incredibly important. 

When Are Tornadoes Most Likely To Occur?

In Canada, tornado season is considered to be between April and September with the most dangerous ones taking place in June and July.

How to Prepare for Tornadoes in Construction

Most deaths and injuries occur when buildings collapse or when people are struck by flying debris, especially glass. So, it is best to get quickly into a well-supported basement area. If this is not possible, a room with strong walls will do (such as a bathroom or under a stairwell). If you are outside, crouch or lie down in a ditch.  

Create an emergency plan that is site-specific and notify the workers.  The emergency response plan should include places in the area to seek shelter in the case of a tornado, checklists of tasks to do depending on how much warning you have, roll calls after the fact to ensure no one is missing, and making sure any hazardous or dangerous materials have been moved or protected.

Recognizing Signs of Tornadoes

While tornadoes can be unpredictable and happen suddenly, there are some best practices in determining whether a tornado is about to occur. The first on the list is monitoring your local weather.  However, if you don’t have access to a radio or weather network, there are a few signs in the sky that a tornado is likely to happen. This would include dark, greenish skies or clouds, hail without rain, roars and thunder, clouds of debris that have already been created, high winds, and a funnel cloud starting to appear.

Safety Tips For Tornadoes in Construction

The first thing you should do if you see a tornado coming is head into a building and take cover. If that’s not possible, as is likely the case on a lot of construction sites, the safest thing to do is find the lowest point on a job site, lie down on the ground face down, and cover the back of your head with your arms. Ensure tools and materials are properly tied down or stored during a potential tornado storm.  

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