Deicing Dangers

Health and Safety Deicing Dangers Personal Protection Equipment on the ramp, writes Sara Garity By Sara GarityBy Joan Bittel> April 2002 Flying through winter weather requires extra protection from ice and snow. Ground support keeps the...


Health and Safety

Deicing Dangers

Personal Protection Equipment on the ramp, writes Sara Garity

By Sara GarityBy Joan Bittel>

April 2002

Flying through winter weather requires extra protection from ice and snow. Ground support keeps the aircraft safe with deicing procedures, but what keeps the ground support team safe during the harshest of winter weather?

"The wearing of proper clothing and protective equipment are vital to accident prevention in the work environment," says David Castelveter, spokesperson for U.S. Airways. "Our employees who handle the deicing of our aircraft face real challenges each time they are called upon, especially in the extreme cold."

Cold, windy, and wet weather are just a few of the extreme conditions aircraft ground support teams experience. Protection from the exposure or ingestion of glycol (deicing fluid) to the skin and eyes, as well as staying visible on the ramp are vital for the teams' success. Along with loud, jet engine noise and minimum visibility due to darkness or blowing snow, this constantly fluctuating environment can be potentially dangerous.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as boots, socks, jackets, overalls/coveralls, gloves, vests, along with hearing and sight protection are all necessary for creating a safe and warm work environment while out on the ramp.

"The deicing people wear a 2-piece rainsuit, rubber boots, gloves — more for visibility than for warmth, chemical-type goggles, and hearing protection," says Tom Hendershot of Frontier Airlines at Denver International Airport.

FEET FIRST
Boots are an important commodity for traction, warmth, and chemical protection when out on the ramp. Bata Wolf Pac Boots, distributed through Lab Safety Supply, are insulated boots to keep feet warm and protected from cold, slush, and ice to -35 degrees Fahrenheit. The boots are chemical-resistant, with cleated non-slip soles, steel shank, bellows tongue, and optional heavy, 5-lb. wool liner with reinforced heel and are available in both men's and women's sizes.

Dunlop Company also offers protective footwear with its DVC Nitrile Boots, which are chemical and oil resistant. They have a slip-resistant sole, steel toe and plate, and are available in red and green for easy viewing in low visibility conditions.

LaCrosse Rainfair offers Extreme Cold Weather Socks, which combine a polypropylene sock liner with an outer sock. "The socks are new for us but have done very well so far. The temperature regulating fibers absorb, retain, and release body heat,"says Tammy Woolrage of LaCrosse-Rainfair Safety Products.

Carol Davis's Web Foots Body Socks® come in three different styles for men and women. These one-piece undergarments are constructed with a cold-weather fleece textile and is hydrophobic, which means it wicks moisture from the skin while repelling outer moisture. They are stretchy and have a generous cut that offers a full range of body motion.

THE OUTER LAYER
GORE-TEX® clothing line, available through Tiger Aviation Distributors, Inc., comes in three different layers. The Protective Outer Layer is waterproof, windproof, and highly breathable to prevent dampness or chilling down. The Insulation layer traps pockets of dead air, slowing the transfer of heat to the outer layer, trapping body heat. The Wicking layer, worn next to the skin, wicks the perspiration away from the body. Jackets, pants, parkas, and bibs are available from GORE-TEX.

Ansell Edmont Industrial, Inc. also offers PPE outerwear. The Sawyer-Tower CPC series, using GORE-TEX fabric, offers exceptional comfort and outstanding chemical splash protection. The lightweight, flexible, snag- and tear-resistant jackets, overalls, coats, and coveralls are stain-repellent and washable.

Reflective vests are available from American Allsafe Company to wear over clothing for visibility on the ramp. Available in day-glo orange, with silver, one-inch reflective stripes, the mesh vests provide elastic side straps, and hook and loop front closure for easy use.

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