Ice can be dangerous, plain and simple. It doesn’t matter whether you’re walking, driving or working in icy conditions – there are many hazards to negotiate. Restoration safety has to be the top priority because slick roads, icy conditions, and falling limbs impede mobility and create an unusually dangerous environment. So when an area gets pounded with ice and experiences widespread power outages, utility restoration personnel can find themselves in precarious situations.
Ice Storm Restoration Safety Tips
Make sure that your Incident Action Plan (IAP) for each shift includes specifics related to the unique restoration safety challenges that your folks are likely to experience. For example, icy roads will impact the ability of mutual assistance resources and utility crews to reach staging areas or restoration sites, so some specifics regarding transportation during icy conditions should be covered.
An ice storm restoration event frequently requires the use outside personnel, and you’ll need to be ready to provide a thorough safety team briefing when those folks arrive.
Make sure that you’ve taken into account the personal protective equipment (PPE) that’s needed for extremely cold conditions to limit the dangers of excessive exposure to frigid temperatures. You might need to obtain additional traction aid footwear.
An ice storm safety measure that’s useful during icy conditions is assigning “crew guides,” which are utility employees assigned to accompany crews from other utilities or outside contractors. Using crew guides can help avoid accidents on icy roads because outside crews generally don’t know the ins and outs of the utility service area, and this unfamiliarity can distract drivers from focusing on the road conditions. The crew guides can also steer personnel around the typical problem areas in the service area.
Much like the aftereffects of a hurricane, roadways can be expected to be littered with debris following an ice storm. Therefore it’s always a good idea to coordinate with the local municipalities and conduct post-storm clean ups in the hardest hit areas. This will help increase the safety of the roadways for both residents and utility resources and help restoration crews get around.
Ice storms present special safety challenges not found in other types of major weather events. A coating of ice on wires and roadways can sometimes paralyze restoration efforts, and navigating damage assessment and restoration crews in such conditions can be hazardous. So it’s critical to plan in advance and reinforce ice storm restoration safety continuously.