Cold Weather Safety: Winter Hazards

Cold Weather Safety: Winter Hazards

Winter hazards are still with us and will continue for a few more months reaching out to grab the unwary when least expected.  Let’s all take a close look and thoroughly “winterize” our safety habits.

Keep a close check on all gas lines for possible leaks—they’ve had some pretty rough usage the past several months and may spring a leak when least expected.  One procedure for testing any gas line is to apply a solution of soapsuds to all connections and any tight bends or other suspected source of leaks.  Another is to use a flammable gas detector. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CHECK LEAKS WITH A LIGHTED MATCH OR FIRE.  Constantly checking for leaks is necessary to eliminate the possibility of employees being overcome by gas fumes, and also to eliminate the possibility of an explosion.  Remember that liquefied petroleum gases (butane and propane) flow like water and seek the lowest level—cellars, pits, etc.

Stoves should be checked to eliminate the possibility of carbon monoxide gas, and where necessary they should be repaired without delay.  Be sure that all stoves and heaters are well vented and that all vents are in good condition.  Remember that carbon monoxide does not give any warning, has no odor and will claim its victims before they can realize what is happening.  This deadly gas is present in the exhaust from all gas engines and may be generated by stoves and heaters not correctly regulated.  Make a thorough check of your automobile exhaust system and replace any exhaust pipe or muffler which may have even a small hole burned or rusted through.  While driving keep at least one window cracked even in the coldest weather to help avoid a possible concentration of this gas.

Be sure the pilot light is working properly. You may need to check it periodically as high wind can suck it out.  Every year several crewmen get burned while lighting gas stoves or heaters due either to an accumulation of gas in the heater or through improper lighting.  Just remember to make sure that the stove is clear of all gas, and keep your body from in front of the stove until you know the gas is lighted.

Another place where hazards are encountered this time of year is the thawing of frozen lines.  When you start to thaw out a frozen line, begin at one end where the pressure generated by the expanding liquid, and possible steam, can escape into a drip tank or the atmosphere.  If you start thawing in the middle of a frozen line you may generate enough pressure to burst the line.

Regardless of where you are, low temperatures increase the hazards of the job considerably, and so you should take particular pains to do everything possible to reduce these hazards.

If you have to commute to the rig it is important to keep your vehicle in good working condition. It is advisable to keep a shovel, tow rope, blankets, steno type fire units and a supply of snacks in the trunk.