Rain or shine, glaziers have a job to do, but extreme weather conditions sometimes determine if it’s safe to work. Frigid conditions, such as the deadly cold temperatures the Northeast experienced over the weekend, can pose an increased danger to glaziers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) explains that employers need to monitor their workers to prevent cold-related injuries, including cold stress, frostbite, trench foot and hypothermia.
The Northeast saw bitter cold on Saturday, with record-breaking low temperatures of minus 10 and minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit in Boston and Providence, R.I., respectively. The wind chill made it feel even colder, with temperatures of minus 4 degrees in NYC, minus 6 degrees in Hartford, Conn., and minus 15 degrees in Concord, N.H.
As for working in the brutal cold, Victor Colon, corporate safety leader at seele Inc. in N.Y., says they usually stop mechanized work.
“We rarely work in extremely cold temperatures only because we are limited on what we can do,” he says. “We can’t really operate the suction devices in cold temperatures because it freezes the lines and renders the cups useless.”
The operational limits of machinery and products dictate whether work can be performed, explains Colon. For example, there’s no caulking when it’s extremely cold, he says. Glaziers also can’t put down membranes because they can’t be cured in low temperatures.
“It all depends on the actual kind of work you are doing,” he adds.
Joey Karas, president of Karas & Karas Glass Co. in Boston, says cold temperatures don’t typically affect companies that usually work with unitized equipment. That’s because they deal with slings and other non-mechanized components.
Karas explains that his company is more concerned with the wind than the cold. If they see wind forecasted, they move to secure material to ensure that it doesn’t become dangerous.
“Wind is by far a bigger issue than cold,” he says.
To deal with the cold, Colon says that seele provides warm-weather gear to glaziers, such as winter gloves and heating pads. Glaziers also gather around a shanty to keep warm, depending on the jobsite.
Karas says his company will place heaters at jobsites and allow workers to go inside if the weather becomes too harsh.
“We’re not going to put anybody to hardship,” he says.
OSHA does not have a set standard that covers working in cold environments. However, the organization offers a cold stress guide that lists risk factors, what symptoms to look for, how to dress properly, and safety tips for workers, among others.