Anyone working in a cold environment may be at risk of cold stress. Some workers may be required to work outdoors in cold environments and for extended periods, for example, snow cleanup crews, sanitation workers, police officers and emergency response and recovery personnel, like firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. Cold stress can be encountered in these types of work environment. The following frequently asked questions will help workers understand what cold stress is, how it may affect their health and safety, and how it can be prevented.
HOW COLD IS TOO COLD?
What constitutes extreme cold and its effects can vary across different areas of the country. In regions that are not used to winter weather, near freezing temperatures are considered “extreme cold.” A cold environment forces the body to work harder to maintain its temperature. Whenever temperatures drop below normal and wind speed increases, heat can leave your body more rapidly.
Wind chill is the temperature your body feels when air temperature and wind speed are combined. For example, when the air temperature is 40°F, and the wind speed is 35 mph, the effect on the exposed skin is as if the air temperature was 28°F.
Cold stress occurs by driving down the skin temperature and eventually the internal body temperature (core temperature). This may lead to serious health problems, and may cause tissue damage, and possibly death.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS THAT CONTRIBUTE TO COLD STRESS?
Some of the risk factors that contribute to cold stress are:
In a cold environment, most of the body’s energy is used to keep the internal core temperature warm. Over time, the body will begin to shift blood flow from the extremities (hands, feet, arms, and legs) and outer skin to the core (chest and abdomen). This shift allows the exposed skin and the extremities to cool rapidly and increases the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. Combine this scenario with exposure to a wet environment, and trench foot may also be a problem.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON COLD INDUCED ILLNESSES/INJURIES?
Hypothermia occurs when body heat is lost faster than it can be replaced and the normal body temperature (98.6°F) drops to less than 95°F. Hypothermia is most likely at very cold temperatures, but it can occur even at cool temperatures (above 40°F), if a person becomes chilled from rain, sweat, or submersion in cold water.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HYPOTHERMIA?
WHAT IS FROSTBITE?
Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. The lower the temperature, the more quickly frostbite will occur. Frostbite typically affects the extremities, particularly the feet and hands. Amputation may be required in severe cases.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF FROSTBITE?
Trench Foot or immersion foot is caused by prolonged exposure to wet and cold temperatures. It can occur at temperatures as high as 60°F if the feet are constantly wet. Non-freezing injury occurs because wet feet lose heat 25-times faster than dry feet. To prevent heat loss, the body constricts the blood vessels to shut down circulation in the feet. The skin tissue begins to die because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients and due to the buildup of toxic products.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TRENCH FOOT?
WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR A PERSON SUFFERING FROM IMMERSION FOOT?
Although OSHA does not have a specific standard that covers working in cold environments, employers have a responsibility to provide workers with employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards, including cold stress, which are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to them (Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970). Employers should, therefore, train workers on the hazards of the job and safety measures to use, such as engineering controls and safe work practices, that will protect workers’ safety and health.
Employers should train workers on how to prevent and recognize cold stress illnesses and injuries and how to apply first aid treatment. Workers should be trained on the appropriate engineering controls, personal protective equipment and work practices to reduce the risk of cold stress.
Employers should provide engineering controls. For example, radiant heaters may be used to warm workers in outdoor security stations. If possible, shield work areas from drafts or wind to reduce wind chill.
Employers should use safe work practices. For example, it is easy to become dehydrated in cold weather. Employers therefore, can provide plenty of warm sweetened liquids to workers. Avoid alcoholic drinks. If possible, employers can schedule heavy work during the warmer part of the day. Employers can assign workers to tasks in pairs (buddy system), so that they can monitor each other for signs of cold stress. Workers can be allowed to interrupt their work, if they are extremely uncomfortable. Employers should give workers frequent breaks in warm areas. Acclimatize new workers and those returning after time away from work, by gradually increasing their workload, and allowing more frequent breaks in warm areas, as they build up a tolerance for working in the cold environment. Safety measures, such as these, should be incorporated into the relevant health and safety plan for the workplace.
Dressing properly is extremely important to preventing cold stress. The type of fabric worn also makes a difference. Cotton loses its insulation value when it becomes wet. Wool, silk and most synthetics, on the other hand, retain their insulation even when wet. The following are recommendations for working in cold environments:
Cold Stress. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards. In addition, pursuant to Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Emergency Preparedness Guides do not and cannot enlarge or diminish an employer’s obligations under the OSH Act.
Emergency Preparedness Guides are based on presently available information, as well as current occupational safety and health provisions and standards. The procedures and practices discussed in Emergency Preparedness Guides may need to be modified when additional, relevant information becomes available or when OSH Act standards are promulgated or modified.
Please see the attachments below as the Safety Footwear Rule 71.7 will be changing effective January 1, 2017.
As always, I would like the members to keep me informed of anything that you turn into Coleman. Things that are said to him seem to just disappear and don't always get addressed so it is very important that I, as the local chairman, receive this information as well. I hear a lot of guys talk but no one ever will put anything in writing and turn it in. This is imperative to resolve our situation. The State legislative director has also been very involved with Coleman in trying to resolve our issues.
Local Chairmain & Legislative Rep.
SMART-TD Local 506
Once again...it takes extreme pressure from SMART-TD to get some kind of response to the Oak Tree Inn dilemma!
The following is an Email from Mr. Coleman Bell regarding the Oak Tree Inn meeting...
From: "Coleman S. Bell" <CSBELL@UP.COM>
Date: July 8, 2016 at 12:36:02 PM CDT
Subject: Oak Tree Inn - TR Lodging INC
Thank you for speaking with me yesterday. Attached is a spreadsheet items discussed in yesterdays meeting between Union Pacific and TR Lodging Enterprises INC and specifically the incident on 5 July at the Oak Tree Inn.
TR Lodging INC Attendees:
Roy Arnold, President – email@example.com
Michael Martin, VP Operations – Office: (316) 630-6340/ Cell: (470) 991-9982 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Robyn Powell, VP Business Development – Office: (316) 630-6316/Cell: (316) 210-5099–email@example.com
Darryll Hunter, Regional Manager - firstname.lastname@example.org
Union Pacific Attendees:
Jason Wilkserson, General Supt. - KCSU
Chad Toussaint, Director Terminal Operations – KCSU
Coleman Bell, Senior Manager Terminal Operations – KCSU
Sarah Foust, Senior Manager (FRA, Transportation and Lodging)
Tamika Pierson-Booty, Supply Operations
David Martinez, Director Crew Management Services OPs
Atosha Coleman, Crew Management Systems
I spoke with regional manager Darryll Hunter regarding the check-in and cleaning process at the Oak Tree Inn where Union Pacific guests stay. He confirmed by the end of next week they will have another manager come in to assist the current GM David Block and Asst GM so the hotel will have 24 hour coverage. Her name is Christina Niolzi. She is currently on vacation this week and they are making arrangements to have her arrive next week.
Discussed was the resolution to guests being checked in to already occupied rooms. Superintendent Jason Wilkerson said he wanted these resolved within 48 hours. I have cascaded to the run-thru team in Kansas City that any notification from any railroad individual of any of the aforementioned items are not followed I personally want a call 24 hours a day which would result in immediate action on my part to TR Lodging Enterprises INC. Escalation will be made immediately to corporate headquarters and general manager David Block of the Oak Tree Inn. The Oak Tree in has our contact information and 24 hour number where a run thru team member can be contacted if needed if any situation may arise that will affect the stay of Union Pacific guests.
Oak Tree Inn has committed to additional staffing and short term plans to ensure immediate success, upgrade in labor standards/expected decrease in turnover, changed staffing structure and continued training for hotel staff.
Oak Tree Inn will be receiving a (PMS) Property Management System 1 August. Training will be done independent of any current system being used and will be completed 30 August. This system was described to us as a system which would improve the check in and out process as well as identify clean and occupied rooms for the guests of the hotel.
Specifically regarding communication on the 5 July incident, we not notified until 0800 on the 6th. Communication from a relationship standpoint and keeping Union Pacific guests informed if of any incidents that may occur is crucial. All parties from Union Pacific discussed the lack of communication and expressed it’s completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated from TR Lodging going forward. Locks were approved for three doorways for increased security and reduced disruptions from the public in the railroad wing.
Below is the action Items discussed echoing our meeting with TR Lodging on 14 August.
Please pass on to your members that the Kansas City Service Unit will not tolerate the current situation or lack thereof going forward . We are committed to making sure the UP Oak Tree Inn guests have a great place to get rest when away from home. This was explicitly expressed by our team and Mr. Wilkerson yesterday during this meeting.
Thank you for your support. Please forward this as needed.
(See attached file: KCLEIFollowUpItems.xls)
Written by David Thomas, Contributing Editor
Transport Canada's selection March 11, 2015 of new tank car specifications is surely a harbinger of the choice the White House will make later this spring from among the options proposed by U.S. rail and hazmat regulators.
The clue is in Transport Minister Lisa Raitt's revelation that Canada could not secure U.S. support for advanced braking systems for oil trains—a clear inference that agreement has been reached on the other specifications for a future TC/DOT-117 tank car.
Sticking a "TC" in front of the U.S. "DOT-117" designation makes it pretty certain that Canada has been advised that the White House has made up its mind on 9/16-inch-thick hulls, full head shields, thermal insulation, and enhanced rollover protection for top fittings. This was the option preferred by the Association of American Railroads, which naturally welcomed the Canadian decision as the benchmark for a necessarily common North American standard.
However, Canada's May 2017 deadline for getting DOT-111s out of crude oil service effectively scuttles the U.S. regulators' strategy of shuffling the oldest cars to Alberta tar sands service as new cars come on stream.
The rule package proposed by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) anticipates DOT-111s remaining in crude oil service until October 2020: ". . . some DOT(-111) Unjacketed and CPC 1232 Unjacketed cars (about 8,000 cars) will be transferred to Alberta, Canada tar sands services. No existing tank cars will be forced into early retirement."
The two recent Ontario explosions of CN unit trains hauling Alberta tar sands crude had already exposed PHMSA's incomprehensible misunderstanding of bitumen blended for transport. ("Dilbit" is bitumen diluted with naptha or other liquid petroleum gases to make it flow; "synbit" is partially refined bitumen intentionally boosted with highly explosive hydrogen gas.)
So, the White House now has to figure out what to do with the thousands of old DOT-111s that will be banned in 24 months from crude service, bitumen or otherwise, north of the 49th Parallel. Either these cars will be allowed to haul crude in the U.S. well beyond their originally proposed 2020 withdrawal, or they will, indeed, be forced into "early retirement."
Canada's transport minister offered another hint of regulatory rebellion among the political tribes ranging above America's northern frontier. Raitt said that a requirement for ECP (electronically controlled pneumatic) unit train braking will re-emerge in new rail operating rules for high-hazard trains in Canada. The rail industry in the U.S. is resisting the PHMSA recommendation for electronic brake controls, but Canada could independently require them for domestic or cross-border service.
Unlike the U.S., where the regulatory process requires months of wide-open public consultation and interminable iteration of rule proposals, Canadian rail regulation is by executive fiat, with an optional cover of voluntary consultations with handpicked industry experts. Under the country's parliamentary system, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has direct, personal power over both the elected legislature and the departments that implement law, including Raitt's Transport Canada.
Harper's government has an established record of hostility toward the country's railways and tight ties to the oil industry that provides his Conservative Party its financial and ideological power base. What other government would spend millions of taxpayer dollars on foreign newspaper advertising to promote a private pipeline scheme?
Harper's oil-dependent government is moving quickly on tank cars and railway operating rules to preserve a vital transportation option for Alberta's tar sands. Harper (and the U.S. State Department) argued that rail was an obvious alternative should the Keystone XL pipeline project ultimately be denied. Should the White House accede to the rising insistence of lesser lawmakers that crude oil be deweaponized before loading, rail will cease to be the existential lifeline for tar sands bitumen.
Fixing Bakken crude is a technically easy matter of applying the same treatment or "stabilization" that is routine for pipeline transport in North Dakota, and for any mode of transport in Texas. However, rendering Canadian bitumen safe for rail carriage is problematic. The alternative to dilution with naptha is heating with steam during loading and unloading—a messy procedure that requires internal steam coils be built into tank cars.
Neither Canada's new tank car spec nor any of those under consideration by the White House includes a requirement for steam coils. Anyway, the steam-heating alternative is impractical on a large scale, given its requirement for extra-cost tank cars constructed specifically for low-value bitumen. Options may not exist at all for synbit, the hydrogen-injected variety of processed bitumen.
Expect the Harper government to intensify the blame it directs at the railroads as it tries to deflect attention away from the explosive goop (it's certainly not natural crude) shipped from Alberta's tar sands.
The government has summoned CN to testify before a parliamentary committee about the causes of this winter's spate of tank car derailments. Track condition, train lengths, and speed will be the focus of government-side interrogators; there will be not a word from Conservative members of parliament about the tar sands industry's intentional spiking of bitumen with naptha and hydrogen.
Perhaps this is Washington's opportunity to regain credible leadership in oil train reform: If Canada can bar DOT-111s at the border, the U.S. could, and should, prohibit spiked bitumen from American rails.
(I suggest this as a patriotic Canadian and proud resident of Alberta who benefits directly from bitumen taxes and royalties. Like most Albertans, I simply don't wish to profit by placing other people and places at unnecessary risk.)
Train-vehicle collisions and deaths at grade crossings and from pedestrians trespassing on railroad tracks rose across the United States last year, Operation Lifesaver Inc. (OLI) announced Wednesday.
The national nonprofit rail safety education organization cited preliminary 2014 statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), which showed that U.S. crossing collisions increased 8.8 percent to 2,280 in 2014, while crossing fatalities climbed 15.6 percent to 267, said OLI President and Chief Executive Officer Joyce Rose in a press release.
Fatalities caused by people trespassing on railroad tracks and property surged 21.8 percent to 526 last year, Rose said. Trespass injuries dropped 2.8 percent to 419, while injuries that occurred at grade crossings fell 14.4 percent to 832.
The numbers indicate that for 2014, the rail trespass casualty rate — deaths and injuries per million train miles — is 1.23, the highest level in the last decade. The highway rail incident rate — incidents per million train-miles — is 2.98, the highest since 2008, Rose noted.
"Historically, highway-rail grade crossing collisions have dropped greatly in recent decades," Rose said. "While the number of people injured in crossing crashes and pedestrian-train incidents dropped in 2014, the statistics show that challenges remain in our mission to educate a busy, distracted public about the need for caution at train tracks."
States with the most crossing collisions last year were Texas, Illinois, California, Indiana and Georgia. States with the most pedestrian-train casualties (deaths and injuries combined) in 2014 were California, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York.
Rose said the trend demonstrates the continuing need to raise public awareness through OLI's national "See Tracks, Think Train!" campaign.
"Operation Lifesaver, in partnership with major freight railroads, commuter and light rail systems, state and local law enforcement, and transportation agencies, will be expanding the campaign and developing new educational materials to encourage Americans to make safe decisions around tracks and trains,” she added.
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it would host a forum March 24-25 on the dangers of trespassing on railroad rights of way.
NTSB member Robert Sumwalt will chair the forum, titled, "Trains and Trespassing: Ending Tragic Encounters."
The event will feature speakers who have been seriously injured by trains; those whose communities have been affected; and railroad employee assistance program employees whose train crews have struck people on railroad property.
The forum will draw on the expertise of railroads, regulators and researchers to review the diversity of trespassing accidents and incidents and look at current and future prevention strategies, according to an NTSB press release.
U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) yesterday introduced the Railroad Safety and Positive Train Control Extension Act (S. 650), which proposes to extend the federally mandated deadline for positive train control (PTC) implementation by five years from 2015's end to Dec. 31, 2020.
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
"We must work to do everything we can to improve train safety and accident prevention without burdening our nation’s freight and passenger rail industry," said Blunt — the bill's lead sponsor — in a press release. "Unmanageable deadlines could result in higher costs and a disruption of service. This bipartisan bill will help ease the positive train control deadline to give railroads ... enough time to fully and safely implement this new technology."
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) — which has stated freight railroads wouldn't be able to meet the impending deadline due to radio tower/communication, technology development and other issues — welcomed the legislation.
"America's freight-rail industry … appreciates the senators' recognition that the existing mandate to have a fully interoperable, nationwide PTC system tested and safely operating by the end of 2015 is simply not possible and must be changed," said AAR President and Chief Executive Officer Ed Hamberger in a statement. "[We] believe the new deadline set by the legislation is a reasonable and responsible extension, and provides the freight- and passenger-rail industries the time needed to fully install, test and approve PTC."
The freight-rail industry has spent $5.2 billion to date on implementation and although progress has been substantial, much remains to be done before PTC can safely operate around the nation, he said.
"This bill provides railroads the time necessary to fully and safely implement PTC without having to navigate an arbitrary and infeasible statutory deadline," said Hamberger.
The Federal Railroad Administration is considering a rule that would require Class I freight railroads and railroads with poor safety performances to develop and implement formal risk reduction programs.
A risk reduction program would involve employees working together to identify potential hazards and determine plans to reduce or eliminate associated risks, FRA said in a notice of proposed rulemaking published in the Feb. 27 Federal Register. An ongoing risk-based hazard management program, including a hazard analysis, would help prioritize the risks to be addressed, the notice states.
Risk Reduction Program; Proposed Rule
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