Adapting to Winter Conditions


As winter nears, there are many construction activities that need to be approached differently due to the falling temperatures. Luckily, we have a number of experts to help us through. Andrew Gilchrist and Erin Rose work at our Fairbank Station construction site. Previously, they worked together on a hydroelectric project in northern Ontario, so they are no strangers to adapting construction in areas much colder than Toronto in the winter!

First step? Drink lots of warm beverages! Beyond that, how do they work when the temperature falls below 0°C?

Cold Weather

 “To pour concrete in winter with freezing weather, we add hot water to maintain concrete at around 15°C,” says Gilchrist. “Once the concrete has been poured, we place burlap, insulation tarps and sometimes other heating mechanisms like a frost fighter to keep the concrete warm.”

The team uses electrical tape that conducts a small degree of heat as well as insulation to prevent water pipes from freezing in indoor trailer areas like kitchens and bathrooms. For construction related needs, a vacuum truck capable of keeping water heated will be called to the site. Water is typically used on sites to clean the equipment and machinery, to control dust levels, as well as for the hot water that is added to the concrete.

Shorter Day-Light

Rose says “the day-light is shorter in winter, so we place additional portable light stands and wall pack lights to keep the construction site bright and allow our workers to complete their tasks safely.” Wall pack lights operate similarly to street lights – they come on at dusk and go off at dawn.


The crew at Fairbank Station will salt their site first thing in the morning during winter as well as clean the pedestrian walkways to keep the public safe around the site.

“In the event of snow, we will also check the spill trays, which are placed under the equipment or machinery to catch any fluid to prevent soil contamination, because they can’t serve their purpose if they get compacted by snow,” says Rose.

Cold Weather Gear

To keep workers safe on the coldest days, the team also bundles up. There are cold weather liners that attach to hard hats to keep heads warm, as well as well-insulated work gloves.

“Other than that, lots of thermal layers and warm socks are important,” says Rose. “On the coldest days, workers take warm breaks in the site office or trailers, if needed. And we always have hot coffee brewing!”