As I write this, a massive winter storm is wreaking mayhem from California through Texas. It’s sweeping to the Eastern shores of the U.S. Outside temperatures are hovering in the low 20s, and wind chills are in the single digits or lower. It’s been snowing steadily here in Cleveland for nearly 24 hours to the tune of more than a foot of snow on the ground. The country is being fully winterized.

In the middle of this, my wife and I are doing some remodeling and have several contractors working in our home. I don’t envy them; especially the countertop guy who has to trim the new counters in the garage.

It’s impressive they made it to work with such poor road conditions. It’s impressive at how prepared they are for the inclement weather. I’m talking about layers of clothes, gloves with liners, good hats that cover their ears, polar-like winter coats, and so on.

Being safe and warm at home is awesome for me, but this is a busy and dangerous time of year for the contracting community.
HVAC technicians, especially those who work on commercial rooftops, often have to take off their gloves to handle small parts and such. It only takes a few minutes touching metal for fingers to get so stiff you can barely move them. The danger of frostbite is indisputable.

Winterized Techs Are Safe Techs?

The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) says that anyone working in a cold environment may be at risk for cold-related illnesses and injuries, or “cold stress.” The NIOSH site (ncilink.com/NIOSH) says that workers face increased risks working in cold environments, especially if they take certain medications, are in poor physical condition, or suffer from illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), “A cold environment challenges the worker in three ways: by air temperature, air movement (wind speed), and humidity (wetness). To work safely, these challenges must be counterbalanced by proper insulation (layered protective clothing), by physical activity, and by controlled exposure to cold (work/rest schedule).”

If you visit and scroll through the CCOHS website at ncilink.com/CCOHS, you can find some very specific information about what your technicians should wear, what frostbite signs to look for, and much more. This is one way your techs become winterized.

Other Concerns

Other safety concerns should focus on how to use ladders in winter, understanding the impact of subzero temperatures both physically and mentally, and preparing your technicians to deal with mild hypothermia issues. These are among the necessities to for you to have winterized technicians.

For even more specific information on layering and the types of clothing your service and installation techs should wear, check out ncilink/snowpatrol. Though this site focuses primarily on police officers, its information could be quite useful for your team.
HVAC technicians are out there, right now, helping consumers, working on rooftops, and in the process exposing themselves to extreme weather elements.

Take the time to prepare your workers mentally and physically to recognize cold warning signs and work safely outdoors. Your techs must be winterized against the coldest of days.

Apparently, my remodel contractors’ enabled them to work quickly and safely to finish our projects. Your team should be able to do the same.

Stay safe out there.