Workers gear up for this week’s brutal Arctic blast:
January 6, 2014 – Tower construction and maintenance companies are preparing for brutal weather from a dangerous Arctic blast that could send US temperatures Artic blast hits Midwest plummeting to their coldest in 20 years.
The northeast of the country and parts of Canada have been in the grip of crippling heavy snow and deadly sub-zero conditions at the start of 2014 and the deep freeze is now ripping through the US Midwest and threatening usually mild areas further south.
OSHA does not identify what temperature is safe for an employee to work in, especially a tower technician who oftentimes is subjected to sub-zero wind chills that are not recorded by weather services since the average reporting height is five feet above ground level.
The common sense of a supervisor is the best barometer, but if a climber believes it is too cold or icy to work safely, the majority of the nation’s companies will rely upon their employee’s judgment.
However, the hockey stick growth of the industry in past years has created acclimation problems for some workers.
Whereas an established Michigan company might have seasoned techs who are used to working in bitter cold weather, major companies are relocating workers to cold temperature project states from wherever they can hire them, oftentimes from south of the Mason-Dixon line.
For Great Plains Towers, based out of West Fargo, N.D., it was business as usual this morning, said Kevin Reski, President. His primary concern is to ensure that all of his vehicles’ diesel fuel does not gell.
Although it was 20 below zero with wind chills running between 50 and 70 below, Reski said his men were loading up their trucks and anxious to tackle some of the week’s projects such as building a self-supporting tower and performing tower inspections.
Here are the temperature lows that the crews of the following companies will be experiencing today: Midwest Underground Technology, Champaign, Ill., -18 degrees; TowerMRL, Sun Prairie, Wis, -17 degrees; Vertical Limit Construction, Wanamingo, Minn., -15 degrees; Speelman Electric, Inc., Tallmadge, Ohio, – 7 degrees; and Augusta Tower Technologies, Grand Rapids, Mich., -2 degrees.
If you’re traveling up Interstate 29 in S.D. to visit the National Association of Tower Erectors, Sioux Falls Tower & Communications or Tower Systems, Inc., expect a winter welcome of -17 degrees.
And if you are performing a project in Crane Lake, Minn., the coldest place in the nation, be prepared to work in 36 or more below zero temperatures.
A drive testing team for 3Z Telecom of Miramar, Fla. is going to have to weather 81 degrees today, but they may not know how to handle tonight’s devastatingly cold 46 degrees.
The good news for workers and their clients, The Weather Channel says, is that by Wednesday, sub-zero high temperatures will be virtually gone from the Lower 48 States. Thursday, highs in the 20s or 30s in much of the Great Lakes and Northeast will seem downright balmy compared to earlier in the week.
For some great cold weather working tips and an excellent tailgate session (preferably indoors) for the wireless construction industry, click here.