Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

Staying warm in the cold

Area workers layer up as their shifts take them out into the elements
Jan 19, 2018
Photo by: Andy Krutsinger Rain, nor snow, nor extremely cold temperatures will keep U.S. Postal workers from delivering the mail. Postal workers aren’t the only ones battling the elements during working hours - the roads department also has to have workers out.

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


Although temperatures are expected to moderate over the next several days, chills from the recent cold snaps were felt by everyone.

No one felt the cold more than those who had no choice but to weather the elements for a paycheck.

Topping the list of frigid workers, arguably, are letter carriers.

Stacy St. John, a strategic communications specialist with the United States Postal Service (USPS), said employees are prepared for what lies outside through training and safety talks.

“USPS reminds our employees to layer up, protect their extremities and stay dry,” St. John stated. “Employees are also reminded to listen to their bodies. If they are experiencing health problems related to the weather, they are urged to contact their supervisor immediately. Special attention is being given to new employees making the rounds this year. Training and safety talks are given to ensure our employees have the supplies and information they need to stay safe.”

Residents can also aid in keeping USPS employees safe, St. John continued, by keeping walkways and sidewalks free of ice and snow. Those customers with a curbside mailbox are asked to clear snow around the mailbox.

If there is not a clear path to a mailbox, mail does not have to be delivered, she stated. “Letter carriers are instructed to use good judgment. If a potential hazard exists, they are told to hold mail where snow and ice is not cleared. No one wants to inconvenience a customer. However, we must ensure the safety of our employees.”

Henry County Engineer Jake Hotchkiss said there are at least two county employees working during operating hours, even though thy might not be working together. “We don’t allow one person to work alone and keep in constant contact with our employees who are working outside during cold weather.”

All county trucks are equipped with GPS tracking, CB radios and cellphones to aid in the communication effort. The county also gives secondary-road workers a clothing allowance which helps them purchase warm winter wear and boots, the engineer said.

He admitted that production suffers during frigid weather. “We keep an eye on the weather and try to find jobs that fit with the weather conditions.”

Jack Hedgecock, general manager of Mt. Pleasant Municipal Utilities, said the utility’s work makes it impossible to change schedules during cold weather. “The work we do, such as repairing water main breaks or restoring power, is immediate. We have to go right away.”

He said the most important aspect in fighting cold conditions is getting acclimated to the cold. “Keeping as much skin covered as possible is key. We also get our employees to wear warm clothes, boots and to stay dry. It is very difficult to work in the cold because you lose dexterity.”

During extremely cold weather, at least two employees are sent together to work, Hedgecock said. “Our guys work out in it every day and it is extremely difficult to work in cold weather.”

The most important weapon to fight the cold, St. John concluded is preparedness. “The best way to avoid injury is through education and preparedness.”

It’s only January and more cold weather will visit this winter, but the early taste of cold afforded managers and supervisors an opportunity to prepare their employees for what lies ahead.

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