Brace Yourself: Winter Safety Tips For Linemen
Winter weather and temperatures make being a lineman even more difficult. We have some advice for linemen to help keep yourself (and your tools) safe and sound.
Linemen are often some of the hardest-working and most overlooked workers in America. In the dead of winter, if your power goes out, it’s the linemen that work throughout the night to get your lights and heat back on.
As a lineman, you know that you do more than collect a check. You save lives. The people that need electricity to keep their heat on and medical devices running depend on you. As such, you have to keep yourself safe when the temperatures drop.
Read on for some timely advice to keep you, and those that depend on you, safe.
1. Dress Appropriately
The early winter months tend to see swings in temperature from one day to the next. It can go from snow to the mid-50s in a matter of days. Sometimes, changes in weather can catch linemen off guard.
There are two things to remember when dressing for the job: First, don’t just look at the temperature. Even if it’s 55 degrees outside, once you’re up and working on a line the wind can make it feel like it’s 40 degrees or colder.
Second: weather changes fast, especially in the Northeastern U.S. Never go to work in the winter without having multiple layers of clothing.
When choosing clothes, some people think that grabbing a snug jacket from the store will suffice. In reality, linemen need to wear multiple loose layers. Tight clothing restricts blood flow, lowering your body temperature. It also affects your mobility, increasing the chances of an accident occurring.
Materials matter as well. It is recommended that you find a duck or goose down jacket that is lightweight and allows you a full range of motion.
2. Watch Out For Cold Stress
The cold weather can cause all kinds of health problems for linemen. One of the biggest causes for concern is a condition known as cold stress.
Cold stress occurs when weather conditions lead to a drop in skin and internal body temperature. This drop in temperature leads to a wide arrange of cold-related conditions, such as trench foot, hypothermia, and frostbite.
There are certain things that improve the chances of cold stress. Wetness is a major contributor. If you’re standing in water or snow for long periods of time and your socks get wet, you could be at a higher chance for frostbit or trench foot.
Hypertension is another risk factor. Blood flow affects your bodies ability to regulate temperature. If you have a heart or thyroid condition, you have to be extra careful when working during the winter.
3. Have The Proper Safety Equipment And Lineman Tools
Sometimes, repetition can lead to carelessness. If you’ve been a lineman for years and have worked through many winters, you might think that you can get away without wearing safety equipment. But that’s a decision that could cost you your life.
Every time you climb a line, you should have the following equipment:
- Safety glasses
- Hearing protection
- Rubber sleeves
- Safety harness
- Rubber gloves
- Flame resistant shirt
- Rubber glove protectors
- Work Boots
Going up without these items can cause you serious injury. When you go up, make sure you have the tools you’ll need to get the job done. Going up, forgetting something, and having to go back down again increases the chances of an accident.
4. Know First Aid (Or Learn It!)
No matter how prepared you are, there are occasionally going to be injuries on the job. Workplace injuries are an unavoidable fact of life for linemen. It’s important to know how to respond when these injuries occur, especially in the winter.
First, linemen need to know what to look out for. Know the signs of frostbite, hypothermia, and other cold stress related injuries. Early detection and action make a difference. At the first sign of one of these illnesses, get yourself or your co-worker into a warm place, whether it’s the work truck or a nearby business.
For trench foot, you’ll want to remove the person’s shoes and dry their feet immediately. For frostbite, you’ll want limited contact with the affected area. Dip the frostbitten area in water and get medical help immediately.
You should also have bandages and antiseptic on hand to take care of cuts. Have creams for burns and other first-aid basics. Learning CPR is a valuable skill that could save a life as well.
5. Keep Your Work Vehicle Safe
Linemen spend a lot of time in their work vehicles. During the winter, road conditions can make getting to a work site the most dangerous aspect of the job.
Make sure you maintain your vehicle. Keep your tires in good condition, check your heating system before the winter, swap out your wiper blades, make sure all the lights are working and clean the protective domes.
Don’t rush to the next job site when winter weather hits. Take your time and focus on the road, looking out for black ice. If you live in the northern United States and Canada, invest in a pair of chains for your tires. Foul weather is a leading cause of power outages, so there is a good chance you will spend a lot of time on the road in icy conditions.
We Make Tough Jobs Easier
Now that Winter is here, there’s no better time to upgrade your lineman tools and get what you need for the harsh winter conditions. At Lowell, we’ve got the best lineman wrenches and sockets in the industry, and we’ve been making them here in the USA since 1869
Our tools are as tough as the linemen that use them. Check out our products today and be safe out there.