Wind Hazards

Pay Attention, Don’t Turn Your Back on Wind Hazards

A stiff wind, especially when coupled with chilly or frigid winter temperatures, increases the misery factor sometimes associated with working outdoors. But the wind can be much more than an annoyance. It can actually have life-threatening consequences, ranging from an increased risk for hypothermia and frostbite to the possibility of being blown off a roof while working at heights.

A sudden gust of wind can be annoying to most people as it blows dirt into their faces or sends hats flying. But if you work outdoors, the wind can damage much more than your previously cheerful mood. Wind can’t be seen, but it can certainly be heard and felt. It can also occur with little warning, creating unpredictable and deadly hazards for workers. Winds have blown workers from roofs, toppled unstable walls onto workers and blown debris onto people working below. And even if a wind isn’t strong enough to move you, it can make the temperature feel much colder than a thermometer reads during cold weather months, increasing your odds of suffering hypothermia or frostbite.

Two workers were roofing a large metal building in Nebraska when a wind gust caught a section of metal they were handling and blew both men off the roof onto the concrete 30 feet (nine meters) below. One of the workers, age 61, died, while the other man was badly injured. While you will never know exactly when a sudden wind gust will occur, by listening to the day’s weather forecast you can know whether windy conditions are expected and take extra precautions while working outdoors.

Final Word

Many people dream of flying, but experiencing it by being carried off an elevated work surface by the wind would be a nightmare. Stay grounded by learning about the hazards and avoiding being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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