Mid-January arrives and we realize that the worst of winter is likely still ahead.  There is a significant group of people who should be keenly aware of the cold weather hazards lurking on a brisk winter day. Here at LBA University® we’ve heard from some of the most seasoned individuals who brave the cold each day and they have some interesting, sometimes alarming, firsthand accounts of cold weather hazards they’ve encountered.

Whether your work finds you swaying in the breeze on a tower, dealing with the unpredictable obstacles of a construction site, navigating the unknowns of a rooftop, or even the maze of a cavernous warehouse, the possibility of cold stress and slips and falls are always there.  The list of occupations that can benefit from awareness and education about the hazards winter brings to the job site are nearly endless.

LBA University’s social media discussions recently sparked a dialogue about some strange and sometimes nearly unbelievable cold weather experiences.  The discussion also produced a number of good tips for everyone to remember.

Let’s start with a comment from our founder and CEO, Lawrence Behr.  He recalled an experience years ago when he was on a radio tower site in Minnesota:

“We were working at night and It was 40 below. So cold the trees would occasionally explode like gunshots! A warm bed never felt so good.”

Proper clothing and equipment are essential for cold weather work!
Proper clothing and equipment are essential for cold weather work!

A tower worker in Alaska added some perspective to the conversation:

“Here in Fairbanks we get down as low as -70 but that’s ACTUAL temperature and it is unbearable. Working at -20 is quite common but anything below -40 tends to be emergency work only.”

And one suggestion was made that is often, but not always, a way to avoid cold weather hazards:

“I’m a warm weather guy, so I either go farther south or southwest in the winter.”

Another contributor to the conversation described how he was part of an assignment that involved towing a TV production trailer up a ski slope and leveling it in the snow using 4 x 4’s.  After an episode of freezing rain, the only way to navigate the slope on foot was with ice cleats.  What transpired next left workers narrowly escaping serious injury or possibly even death on the ice glazed slope.

“While in preproduction the 4×4’s slipped out from under the 5th wheel area, and the entire 50 foot unit started to turn and slide down the hill and then stopped. The body of the trailer twisted so bad that the one side exit door was wedged shut. They had to bring a bull dozer up and carefully push the unit back into position, and then leave the bull dozer in place before we would think of getting back into the truck.”

Storm-downed power lines can be a lethal hazard
Storm-downed power lines can be a lethal hazard

A broadcast engineer chimed in by recounting an episode where he was surveying a mountain top transmitter site following high winds, rain and snow that left the power out at the site:

“I was walking along a service road at the site, head down watching for hazards, when I walked right into a downed HV utility line dangling from the pole. Had the line been alive I’d most likely be dead. Live (hopefully!) and learn.”

Others offered some additional helpful advice for those who work out in the field.  This included watching for hunters.  How many times have we heard stories where a hunter mistakenly shot a person thinking they were a deer or some other form of wildlife?  Someone else pointed out the obvious, but a fact we should never forget.  Gravity is the most dangerous outdoor hazard.  This is certainly a fact when it comes to slips and falls on icy surfaces.

Some of the tower climbers participating in the exchange suggested carrying three pairs of gloves so you can always have two warming in a jacket pocket. Other general comments discussed wearing the right type of clothing, having a good wind breaker and keeping your back to the wind.

Work planning with weather forecasts in mind is essential
Work planning with weather forecasts in mind is essential

LBA University® appreciates these lively, passionate discussions and hopes all outdoor workers and their employers realize the critical nature of cold weather safety.  Safety education and awareness is not only good business that saves lives, it’s required by OSHA.  LBA offers a Cold Exposure Safety course that is available on-line and is very cost effective.  More importantly, the course is OSHA compliant and a certificate is issued upon completion.

Online enrollment and more information on the LBA University® Cold Exposure Safety course is available at: https://lbagroup.com/associates/cold-weather-exposure-safety-training.php, or contact Byron Johnson at 252-757-0279 or byron.johnson@lbagroup.com.

To keep up with all of the conversations taking place at LBA Group Inc. and our training division LBA University®, Inc., like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/LBAGroup.

(Photos: NOAA)

About The Author

Avatar photo

LBA Group, Inc. has 50 years of experience in providing RF asset solutions and risk management for industrial and telecommunications infrastructure assets. The group is comprised of LBA Technology, a leading manufacturer and integrator of radio frequency systems, lightning protection and EMC equipment for broadcast, industrial and government users worldwide; the professional consultancy Lawrence Behr Associates and LBA University, providing on-site and online professional training. The companies are based in Greenville, N.C., USA.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.