Working outdoors in the winter brings many challenges. Not only can winter weather make it difficult to keep warm, and contribute to increased risky situations, but it can also make otherwise simple jobs dangerous.
If you work on aerial lifts in the winter, there are many hazards you need to watch out for. It is critical for you to understand how to work safely and prevent life-threatening accidents.
Top Winter Weather Work Hazards
Besides snow, ice and cold temperatures, ensuring you have a stable surface is a key part of working with aerial lifts, and other equipment, safely. Aerial lifts can become unstable and tip over if not placed on secure, even ground and this is especially important in the winter. When there is snow and ice, you need to make sure the ground is firm and stable for using aerial lifts. If not, work cannot be completed with a powered lift.
Winter can also bring strong winds. Gusts of wind can cause aerial lifts and scissor lifts to become unstable and topple over, causing serious injuries and deaths. It is safest to postpone work with a lift if wind speeds hit 20 mph or higher.
Cold temperatures can also affect aerial lifts and other types of equipment work. When temps drop below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, extra attention needs to be placed on the shock loading, crane hydraulics, and other mechanical components of the lift. When using aerial lifts and scissor lifts in winter weather, it is important to use caution considering the possibility of hydraulic failures.
Cold weather also affects operators, and certain precautions need to be made to ensure workers aren’t subjected to cold weather injuries and illness.
How to Work Safer in the Winter
To stay safe while working outside this winter, workers and aerial lift operators should follow these tips:
Dressing for the cold:
– Wear at least three layers of loose fitting clothes
– Use a knit mask to cover your face and mouth
– Wear a hat that covers your ears
– Wear insulated gloves
– Wear waterproof, insulated boots
Removing snow and other tasks at height using aerial lifts:
– Make sure workers are properly trained
– Make sure guardrails are in good condition and not used to stand on
– Make sure workers use a body harness and lanyard when on the lift
To prevent slips and falls on snow and ice:
– Wear proper footwear with tread
– Take short steps and walk at a slower pace
– Employers should clear snow and ice from walkways and spread deicer as soon as possible after a winter snow
When working on power lines:
– Workers must set up proper traffic zones to warn drivers with cones, signs, lights, and barrels
– De-energize power cables when possible. If not possible, qualified workers must do a hazard analysis to determine whether work and weather conditions are safe
– When possible, stay at least 10 feet away from energized power lines
– Workers must use proper tools and personal protective equipment
There are many ways workers can stay safe this winter, but the first step is receiving quality training and certification. Check out the online, OSHA-compliant aerial lift training from AerialliftCertification.com.