While our winter weather in the southeast region can be quite unpredictable, it’s still important to understand how cold weather affects rigging and the riggers. Similarly, to how warmer temps can cause heat-related illnesses, cold weather can pose injury risks as well.
Rigging Equipment in the Cold
Low temperatures can affect crane components, such as the hydraulics, and other rigging equipment can be impacted too. The temperature should always be taken into consideration before beginning a lift, and load weights need to be reduced. The type of slings and steel in use should be considered as well, as some metals work better in low temperatures than others.
Working in the Cold
If you find yourself ready to work a cold shift, be sure to dress properly and be aware of possible injuries that can occur during colder temps. When you are working outdoors, remember to dress accordingly. Ideally, workers should dress in layers, protect their ears, face, hands, and feet. Proper, waterproof boots are ideal for cold working conditions.
As far as work-related illnesses and injuries, there are a few to be aware of:
- Slipping: Ice can pose an injury risk on job sites. Proper footwear is important, and inspect your surroundings at the beginning of the day.
- Hypothermia: While not likely in our company’s locations, hypothermia can be a serious issue. Hypothermia occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can be produced. If you notice you or a coworker is shivering, loses coordination and concentration, seek help.
- Trench Foot: Long exposure to cold and wet conditions may lead to trench foot. This can be quite painful, but is easily avoided with proper footwear.
Employers can assist workers in cold working conditions by scheduling tasks for later in the day, reducing the work load, providing plenty of breaks and fluids, monitoring their employees for symptoms, as well as training employees properly on these safety measures.
While cold-weather may not be an often occurrence in the southeast, riggers should still be aware of the possible risks. Equipping yourself and your team with best rigging practices and safety knowledge is always the best route!