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Airside safety hazards – winter working

Airside safety hazards – winter working

This summer airside workers endured soaring temperatures but only too soon they will be facing the high winds and storms of autumn and the ice, snow and extreme cold of winter. Year-round airside workers are exposed to weather extremes but winter working, in particular, requires careful consideration to maintain high standards of health and safety and employee comfort.

Here we look at the safety hazards caused by winter weather, the precautions and the protective clothing, PPE and accessories necessary to protect workers as they carry out their duties.

Protection for working in snow and ice

Snow and ice create a particularly high risk working environment for all those working airside. The presence of either leads to a lack of surface friction, increasing the potential for slips, trips and falls. Heavy snow that settles on the ground can also obscure essential warning signs and lights, and while it is falling can reduce visibility severely.

While all airports are required to have procedures in place for clearing airways, taxiways, aprons and emergency response routes, there is the need to continue operations as close to normal as possible. To make this possible, workers will need protective clothing that keeps them warm and dry, and PPE that keeps them safe.

Airport staff working airside in these wintery conditions will benefit from high visibility protective clothing, such as the WEARMASTER® High Visibility Pilot Jacket, made in waterproof PU coated polyester and with comfort features that include a warm quilt lining, fleece lined collar and knitted storm cuffs and waistband. Fleece jackets add another layer of warmth, with the Hi Vis Fleece With Grey Cuffs offering high visibility protection when worn alone.

For extra warmth in extremely cold conditions, workers can add a thermal base layer, such as a long-sleeve thermal vest and thermal leggings or long johns, manufactured from a high-wicking fabric that regulates the wearer’s core temperature, keeping them cool when they’re sweating and warm when it’s cold.

Specialist protection for cold temperatures

Hands and feet can suffer greatly in extremely cold temperatures and need more than the day-to-day protection of ordinary working boots and gloves. To help prevent slips, trips and falls in icy conditions, kit out your workers with boots featuring SRC Slip Resistance, such as the WEARMASTER® Denver Waterproof Boot, with its light and comfortable TPU advanced sole.

Protect workers hands with specialist gloves for cold weather working. The Knitted Thermal Latex Palm Coat Glove features a thermal knitted fleece lined shell in hi viz yarn for extra safety and warmth, and a textured grip latex palm and finger coating. Meanwhile, the Honeywell Cold Grip Glove fleece lined, cold handling glove with waterproof coating, remains flexible even at temperatures below -25°C

For those workers in the de-icing department, tasked with battling the snow and ice to keep planes operational, there is the dual hazard of the extreme cold and the de-icer fluids that they are working with. As well as the protective clothing, footwear and accessories worn by their colleagues for protection against the cold, these workers require PPE that protects them from the chemicals in the de-icing sprays, such as the PVC Dip Knit Wrist Glove, which provides resistance to most acids, oils, caustic and petroleum substances, while offering good levels of flexibility and dry grip with excellent abrasion resistance.

Strong winds and heavy rain

High winds and the wide, open spaces of airside create a uniquely hazardous working environment. Usually occurring in the autumn and winter, high winds are a typical feature of rainstorms and other cold, wintery conditions. The same cold weather protective clothing and PPE will be required for airside workers operating in these conditions, with an added emphasis on waterproofness.

A key hazard in blustery conditions is foreign object debris (FOD) and the injury and damage that it can cause to both workers and property. Day-to-day measures to reduce FOD must be adhered to in order to prevent this added danger in adverse weather conditions.

Fog and heavy rain bring with them the specific danger of reduced visibility. As with snowy conditions, these conditions make high visibility protective clothing essential.

The day-to-day health and safety hazards faced by airport ground handling staff are many, varied and extremely challenging, but the adverse weather that comes with winter months presents particular challenges to maintaining normal airport operations.

Contact Contego Aviation Solutions, your one-stop manufacturer, supplier and distributor of safety clothing and PPE equipment for the aviation industry, to discuss solutions to your winter working concerns. Part of Contego Safety Solutions, Contego Aviation Solutions is a specialist supplier of protective clothing and equipment to the aviation industry.

For help and advice, or details of the full Contego Aviation Solutions range download the Catalogue now, visit our website or contact our friendly team on 0800 122 3323 or