Tag Archive for: cold weather

Power Lineman & Cold Weather – Staying Safe

When average citizens are advised to stay inside due to extreme cold conditions, power linemen will be called out in the harshest elements to restore electricity. As one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States, this is hazardous work in any weather. But, when the conditions are treacherous, extra precautions are necessary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this industry has a fatality rate of 2.2 deaths per every 100,000 workers. Winter conditions increase the probability of accidents, injuries, and fatalities for people in this job. Here are some of the strategies power linemen can use to stay safe in cold weather.

1. Dress Appropriately

The winter months can be full of wild temperature swings from day to day. Some of these extreme weather changes can catch linemen unprepared for changing conditions. When dressing for work, check the forecast and dress in multiple loose layers. Clothing that is too tight can restrict blood flow and reduce your body temperature.

Choose a jacket with goose or duck down that is warm but also loose enough to allow full range of motion. Protect your feet with warm socks and insulated boots. Gloves should be water-resistant and fleece-lined. Finally, wear head and neck protection to lock in body heat.

2. Beware of Winter Dehydration

It’s a common misconception that dehydration isn’t a big issue in cold weather. But it’s something you need to watch for because your body’s thirst response is reduced by up to 40% in the winter.

When you wear heavy winter clothing, the weight of that gear can make your body work up to 40% harder. This increases the need to focus on hydration. You are also losing fluids as you breathe in cold air, even if you don’t notice it.

3. Eat the Right Food

Foods that take longer to digest can make you feel warmer because they help raise your body temperature thanks to a process called thermogenesis. As your body metabolizes the food, it produces heat. You can facilitate the process and stay a bit warmer by eating foods high in carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats because they are more complex and take longer to digest.

4. Watch for Cold Stress

One of the biggest safety challenges power linemen face during the winter is called cold stress. This happens when outdoor conditions cause a drop in internal body and skin temperature. This can lead to a variety of serious conditions like frostbite, hypothermia, and trench foot.

According to OSHA, employers can prevent cold stress by training workers on recognizing the signs, monitoring worker’s physical conditions, and scheduling more frequent breaks during cold weather.

5. Have the Proper Safety Equipment

A cold-weather accident can happen quickly if you don’t have the proper safety equipment on hand. But going without these items in the wintertime could be a costly decision. Every time a power lineman climbs a line, they should have the following equipment:

  • Hardhat
  • Work boots
  • Safety glasses
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety harness
  • Rubber sleeves
  • Rubber gloves
  • Rubber glove protectors
  • Flame resistant shirt
  • Hotstick

Every time you have to go back down to get a forgotten piece of equipment, you increase the risk of an accident.

6. Know First Aid

Even with the strictest guidelines in place, weather-related injuries can still happen. Utility companies should equip their workers with the basic first aid knowledge necessary to assist employees who sustain serious injuries in the field. Power linemen should be certified in CPR and First Aid and have well-equipped first aid kits in their trucks.

7. Focus on Vehicle Safety

Another vital consideration for power linemen is winter road conditions. When cold weather hits, already dangerous roads become even more treacherous due to ice and fog. Make sure your vehicle is in top working condition and has safety measures in place like all-weather tires or chains. Vehicles should also come equipped with emergency supplies for snow removal and winter survival. Finally, slow down and operate your vehicle according to the current conditions.

8. Understand Your Limits

Power linemen understandably take a lot of pride in braving harsh conditions to get their work done. But the human body can only take so much. Fortunately, OSHA has set limitations for workers in harsh conditions. Specifically, if the air temperature drops to between -15 and -19 degrees F and there are at least 10 mile-per-hour winds, OSHA requires that employers implement a 75-minute work limit with at least two breaks.

Learn More About Power Lineman Safety in the Workplace

If you are a power lineman and have suffered an injury, it’s vital to understand that employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment that protects workers from these types of accidents. Having appropriate cold weather protection, training, and guidelines in place is an essential part of workplace safety and accident prevention. To learn more about protecting yourself from accidents in the workplace, contact you Power Lineman Injury Attorney directly.