Tower industry personnel become nature's target of choice during winter construction months
A South Carolina tower tech curses the bone-chilling 30° temperature he's working in. From his advantage point of 160 feet above I-26, he wouldn't be surprised to see an Iditarod Diamond Tower Service dog team heading towards Columbia on a rarely seen snow dusted highway.

At the same time a Fairbanks, Alaska climber is thrilled with the morning's warm weather report of -20° for most of the day in an environment that can see extreme cold temperatures of -60°.

However, both climbers are equally as susceptible to lose too much body heat causing the inner body temperature to fall to dangerously low levels which can cause hypothermia and even death. Numerous fatalities a year are attributed to hypothermia which results when the body's internal temperature drops below 95 degrees F.

Although there are no known incidents of tower construction and maintenance workers dying from hypothermia, many frostbite injuries - a cold-related injury characterized by freezing of tissue - have been reported by companies involved in the tower industry. Elevated wind chill factors that climbers will be subjected to must be taken into consideration.

Cold Weather ClothingTower climbers become nature's bullseye as they ascend as high as 2,000' above ground level in freezing temperatures with elevated wind chill factors as they work in confined positions on unforgiving cold steel. Dress for success takes on a new meaning for these men and women who quickly find out what type of clothing will ensure their safety.
If you have any helpful hints, please add them to other suggestions that can be found in our 
 
Discussion Forum .

Become aware of symptons
It is important to recognize the symptoms. "Pins and needles" will be the initial symptom followed by numbness. There may be an early throbbing or aching, but later on the affected body part will feel like a block of wood.

Frostbitten skin is hard, pale, cold, and has no feeling. When skin has thawed out, it becomes red and painful. With more severe frostbite, the skin may appear white and numb because the tissue has started to freeze.

Very severe frostbite may cause blisters, gangrene (blackened, dead tissue), and damage to deep structures such as tendons, muscles, nerves, and bone.

An important tailgate session for tower construction personnel is to discuss first aid for frostbite victims .

At -45 degrees F., his workers call it quits
"At 35 degrees below, half of my guys will elect to go off the tower, and at 45 below the rest of them will peel off," says Kevin Reski, CEO of Great Plains Towers of West Fargo, ND.Great Plains Towers

"It's basically a temperature comfort level that's allowed for each man," he said, adding that his company supplies appropriate clothing for cold weather work.

"Everything is black because in the winter it's our sunniest months of the year. That way you can add another 10 to 15 degrees to your comfort level from wearing black storm coats, sweatshirts and pants," Kevin explained.

Raised in the 53-year-old family business, Kevin jokingly adds, "The only time I'll ever get off of a tower is when I have nobody on the ground to send up any material."

Weather is not a concern for the erection and maintenance company that employs 18 climbers. It is fully equipped with cold weather equipment as well as an eight-seater plane and a helicopter to transport workers home on the weekend.

Recently elected to the board of directors of the National of Association of Tower Erectors, Kevin has been with the company 32 years full time and ten years part time while attending school. He says that it is rare if the company misses two days of work a year due to inclement weather.

With his Garrison Keillor-type-humor for cold locale living, Kevin said, "In Fargo, when we get up in the morning and it's going to be anything above zero degrees, we are so happy, we're actually ready to go to church on Sunday. We are running out the door besides ourselves."

Barbara Houdek, CEO of Trillium Development, Inc., a Sartell, MN tower erector and maintenance company, agrees that her climbers should be able to assess on their own when the temperature is too cold to perform elevated work. Cold Weather Records

Unless it is an emergency, Barbara says that her employees will not climb in temperatures lower than minus ten degrees.

"We work all year round, but we'll typically schedule tower installations in the spring if we can," Barbara said.

Her employees are outfitted with cold weather clothing which will include Carthartt bibs and jackets as well as face masks and cold weather liners for hard hats. "Bunny boots" for extreme weather conditions are purchased by the climbers.

Scheduling is important, Barbara, explained, so that elevated work can be performed around the warmest part of the day, usually at 2:00 p.m.

Both Barbara and Kevin have had an excellent safety record regarding cold weather injuries. Only minor frostbite has been reported over many years of extremely cold working conditions.

"Perhaps it's because we take it very seriously in this part of the country," Kevin said, emphasizing that wherever his crews go they are equipped for any weather condition with multiple sets of clothing.

Barbara stresses the importance of drinking plenty of liquids while working. She says that oftentimes climbers will not realize how much they have been perspiring during the course of the day in below zero temperatures.

First aid for frostbite victims

1. The victim should be removed from the wind and moved to a warmer place. Remove any jewelry and wet clothing. Identify signs of hypothermia and treat accordingly.

2. If immediate medical help and supplies are available, wrap the affected areas in sterile dressings, separating fingers and toes and transport the victim to an emergency medical facility.
You're So Cold
3. If immediate care is not available, immediately soak the affected area into warm water (104°F to 110°F). Immerse the affected areas in warm (never HOT) water or repeatedly apply warm cloths to affected ears, nose, or cheeks -- for 20 to 40 minutes. Circulate the water to aid the warming process. Severe burning pain, swelling, and color changes may occur during warming. Warming is complete when the skin is soft and sensation returns. If you do not have warm water, hold the affected area against a warm body part (e.g., under an armpit) or warm by breathing out with your mouth on the area.

4. Apply dry, sterile dressing to the frostbitten areas. Put dressings between frostbitten fingers or toes to keep them separated. Elevate the affected area.

5. Never rub or massage the affected area. Never apply direct dry heat such as a campfire or heating pad.

6. Re-freezing of thawed extremities can cause more severe damage. Prevent re-freezing by wrapping the thawed areas and keeping the victim warm. If re-freezing cannot be guaranteed, it may be better to delay the initial re-warming process until a warm, safe location is reached.

7. If the frostbite is extensive, give warm drinks to the victim in order to replace lost fluids.

8. It is important not to smoke or drink alcoholic beverages during recovery as both can interfere with blood circulation.

Wind chill chart should be consulted prior to scheduling work
In using the table below, values of wind chill below -10° F are considered bitterly cold. Values of wind chill below -20° F are extremely cold - human flesh will begin to freeze within one minute.

If reliable weather reports are not available, use the following as a guide to estimate wind velocity:
    A 5 mph (8 km/h) wind will move a light flag
    A 10 mph (16 km/h) wind will fully extend the flag
    A 15 mph (24 km/hr) wind will raise a newspaper sheet
    A 20 mph (32 km/h) wind will produce blowing and drifting snow

Wind
(mph)
Temperature (° F)
35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 -5 -10 -15 -20 -25
5 32 27 22 16 11 6 0 -5 -10 -15 -21 -26 -31
10 22 16 10 3 -3 -9 -15 -22 -27 -34 -40 -46 -52
15 16 9 2 -5 -11 -18 -25 -31 -38 -45 -51 -58 -65
20 12 4 -3 -10 -17 -24 -31 -39 -46 -53 -60 -67 -74
25 8 1 -7 -15 -22 -29 -36 -44 -51 -59 -66 -74 -81
30 6 -2 -10 -18 -25 -33 -41 -49 -56 -64 -71 -79 -86
35 4 -4 -12 -20 -27 -35 -43 -52 -58 -67 -74 -82 -92
40 3 -5 -13 -21 -29 -37 -45 -53 -60 -69 -76 -84 -92

Wind speeds above 40 mph have little additional chilling affect.

What are the cold weather temperature limits?
Many erectors question what is the unsafe temperature for a climber or civil worker to continue to work inMt. Washington extreme cold weather conditions? While OSHA does not have any regulations specific to working outside in extreme weather, it does publish tips to protect workers  in a cold environment. It also states that the contractor must take precautions to protect their workers from life-threatening injuries and ailments.

Whether it is rain, high temperatures, lightning, freezing temperatures or any other working environment that can be extremely hazardous, the job site foreman should assess the conditions and make a decision as to whether his employees should continue to work.

Wind Chill Temp Generally, workers will let their supervisors know when it is too cold. If there is any doubt, it is advisable to move on the side of caution, stop all activities and discuss it with competent professionals. Some company safety and health programs will address policies regarding cold weather work practices.

Our Canadian neighbor's Occupational Health and Safety association does not have specific temperature limits for working outdoors. However, Saskatchewan Labor has adopted guidelines for working in extreme cold temperatures. The recommended exposure times (see chart below) are based on the wind chill factor, a scale based on air temperature and wind speed. The work-break schedule applies to any four-hour period with moderate or heavy activity. The warm-up break periods are of 10 minute duration in a warm location. The schedule assumes that "normal breaks" are taken once every two hours. At the end of a 4-hour period, an extended break (e.g. lunch break) in a warm location is recommended.

Work Warm-up Schedule for Outdoor Activities
This information applies to any four-hour period.
Warm-up breaks are assumed to provide 10 minutes in a warm environment.
These guidelines apply to workers wearing dry clothing. (source: Saskatchewan Labor)

Sunny sky
Air temperature

No noticeable
wind

Wind
8 km/h (5 mph)

Wind
16 km/h (10 mph)

Wind
24 km/h (15 mph)

Wind
32 km/h (20 mph)

oC
below zero*

oF
below zero*

Max. work period

Number of breaks

Max. work period

Number of breaks

Max. work period

Number of breaks

Max. work period

Number of breaks

Max. work period

Number of breaks

26 to 28

15 to 19

normal breaks

1

normal breaks

1

75 minutes

2

55 minutes

3

40 minutes

4

29 to 31

20 to 24

normal breaks

1

75 minutes

2

55 minutes

3

40 minutes

4

30 minutes

5

32 to 34

25 to 29

75 minutes

2

55 minutes

3

40 minutes

4

30 minutes

5

 

Non-emergency work should stop

35 to 37

30 to 34

55 minutes

3

40 minutes

4

30 minutes

5

 

Non-emergency work should stop

38 to 39

35 to 39

40 minutes

4

30 minutes

5

 

Non-emergency work should stop

40 to 42

40 to 44

30 minutes

5

 

Non-emergency work should stop

43 and below

45 and below

Non-emergency work should stop

*all temperatures are approximate

Cold Weather

Safety     Training

Equipment

Consultants

Copyright © Wireless Estimator, Inc. Please request reprint permission.

WARNING
:
 This generic, non-exhaustive overview is intended to serve as a useful starting point for research and analysis of the topics addressed. Proper training, AnUpIcon professional knowledge and oftentimes licensing are required prior to anyone providing product design, selection, installation, and construction/development-related activities. This information is neither presented to instruct nor teach anyone in the proper or safe methods of any aspect of wireless design or construction. To ensure minimum exposure and to determine compliance for a safe working environment, you must obtain the advice and guidance of an industry professional.

Failure to meet these minimum requirements and appropriate compliance responsibilities can result in serious injury or death to you orWireless Estimator your fellow workers. All aspects of wireless construction are hazardous by nature. You have the sole responsibility to act safely and with caution prior to performing any construction-related task.  

 
   
     
Anritsu