Cold-Weather Safety Practices for Heavy Equipment Operators

December 21, 2021 9:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Colder winter temperatures bring a higher chance of worker injuries and equipment failure.
This post from our pros at M.B. McKee Company, Inc. will cover a few of the ways to ensure ultimate winter safety for everyone and every piece of equipment on a worksite.

Before starting a shift

Heavy equipment safety starts before workers even climb up into their machines to start a shift. Here are steps to take before any work begins:

  • Layer up: The first step is to wear plenty of layers before heading out on the job. Multiple layers of synthetic fabrics help conserve body heat while wicking away sweat. Just be sure a worker doesn’t have unnecessarily loose fabric that could get caught in machines.
  • Check the metal: Extremely cold temperatures can freeze metal—and cold burns can occur when a worker touches frozen metal with bare skin. Check to ensure no metal components on your equipment are frozen.
  • Take care while climbing: Even if the metal isn’t completely frozen over, it can be slippery if it’s icy. Workers must be careful while climbing in and out of their machines to avoid painful slips and falls.
  • Ensure proper lighting: Short days and long nights make winter a real drag. Be prepared for a lack of daylight by properly illuminating a jobsite. Remember that headlights on machinery may not provide enough light for safe operation.

During operation

These are a few things to keep in mind after a worker has climbed up into their machinery and started up the engine:

  • Expect poor traction: Under-inflated tires and ice patches can lead to poor traction. Remember that ramps and bridges ice up faster than solid ground.
  • Go slow: Wheels and tracks can both slip and slide when the ground is cold and icy. The best way to avoid slipping is to go slowly and steadily.
  • Keep windows clear: Condensation buildup inside a piece of heavy machinery drastically cuts visibility. Wipe the windows down periodically to ensure maximum visibility during operation.

Recognizing health risks

There are quite a few health risks associated with working in the cold. Here are some things to look out for when workers are out in freezing temperatures:

  • Hypothermia: Uncontrollable shivering, decreased motor function and difficulty speaking are a few early signs of hypothermia. Call an ambulance, and remove all wet clothing if someone is suffering from hypothermia.
  • Frostbite: Numbness and red or waxy skin are signs that tissue is starting to freeze. It’s tempting, but don’t rub the frostbitten area to warm it up. Instead, seek immediate medical assistance.
  • Dehydration: Dehydration can occur in any weather, and it’s often more common in the winter when we don’t drink enough water to cool down. A dry mouth and dizziness are early signs of dehydration.

Winter safety starts with equipment from M.B. McKee Company, Inc.
For complete heavy equipment safety, be sure that you’re always working with equipment accessories supplied by M.B. McKee Company, Inc. Our products are designed with workers in mind to keep them safe and reduce the chance of injuries in cold weather. If you need safe accessories to aid in the operation of our heavy duty equipment then contact our team to get your quote today.

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