Remember to dress yourself and your equipment properly for the winter months.

Winter is finally here. Is everyone jumping for joy? I didn’t think so.

It’s that time of year when those working in the Bakken and Marcellus Shale plays and the oil sands of Canada need to start thinking about their winter-weather safety tips. Winter – especially in these regions – can bring bitterly cold temperatures as low as negative 60 degrees Fahrenheit (negative 51 Celsius).

“Cold weather, harsh wind and working outside in the wet and frozen stuff is not for the faint of heart,” says Harvey Markiewicz, a Bakken oilfield worker.

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According to the American Society of Safety Engineers and the American Petroleum Institute, it’s important to keep moisture management in mind when working in cold weather. Whatever is worn should be adjustable so it doesn’t get soaked with sweat. Heavy coats should open progressively.

Wool, neoprene and gortex are all good things. One example of an outfit for the cold weather could be a neoprene cold weather face mask, fur-lined leather gloves, a good pair of leather boots and a pair of waterproof boots for when you are walking in 8-inch deep freezing water. Don’t forget those long johns; they’ll keep you nice and warm.

Dressing for the cold weather isn’t the only precaution you should take. Making sure you are ready for vehicle emergencies is a must as well, according to Markiewicz. “There is a very real risk of being snowed into your vehicle while traveling, either from sliding off the road in a blinding blizzard or just plain drifting snow.”

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Some things to keep in mind when you are traveling:

  • Keep your fuel tank full at all times
  • Carry a case of bottled water with you
  • Carry extra blankets in the vehicle, along with flares, tire chains and food

Several companies featured in this month’s issue of Gas, Oil & Mining Contractor make their living working in these harsh environments. Our profile features C Company, a hydroexcavation company in Williston, N.D.

C Company General Manager Dave Long says the crews working for the company must undergo safety training each month, which will include winter-weather safety tips this month. They are told how to dress for the weather and how to care for their equipment in the weather.

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C Company keeps all of the hoses on its hydroexcavators wrapped and heated, and also heats the debris tanks to prevent materials from freezing and damaging the equipment.

There are several folks living in the Bakken Shale play who need help getting that winter weather clothing, especially if they are just moving into the area and are low on funds. In our Bakken Extra this month, we tell you about a couple living in western North Dakota who have started a thrift shop to help oilfield workers in that area. One of the biggest needs for the Bakken Oil Rush Ministry is winter clothing, and the husband-and-wife duo can be found distributing that clothing several times a year.

Remember, while you’re warming up in your home, RV or crew camp, pick up your copy of GOMC and find out what’s new.

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