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Cold Weather Issues for Heavy Equipment and Its Operators

by Dr McCaslin | Nov 14, 2018 |



There are quite a few health risks for a crew that is working in extremely cold temperatures. We know there can be problems with hypothermia and frostbite, but there are a few issues that may not immediately come to mind. Those are the topic of this Texas Final Drive blog post.

Cold Weather Issues for Heavy Equipment and Its Operators (1)

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Trench Foot

For example, there is trench foot: better known as immersion foot syndrome, is the result of your feet being exposed to cold, wet conditions for more than two days and is considered a non-freezing cold injury. It got its name from the many soldiers who suffered from it during World War I, where life in the trenches meant it was practically impossible to keep your feet dry.



Early symptoms of immersion foot syndrome include things like tingling, itching, blotchy skin, and a heavy feeling. As the foot warms up, the foot can turn red and become painful. Blisters will begin to form, and then tissue begins to fall off. This can be a serious problem if untreated. That’s why it is important to start the day off with clean, dry socks and giving your feet a chance to get completely dry when your shift is over.

Winter Dehydration

Another potential problem that you might not expect during the winter is dehydration. This can happen for those who spend more than a few hours out in icy cold temperatures. Cold weather tends to move fluids to the core of your body and away from the extremities, and one of the side effects of this process is increased urine output. And if you are working outside in thick clothes to stay warm, you will eventually begin to sweat, further reducing the level of fluids in your body.

Dehydration is serious, whether it happens in the heat of the summer or the cold of the winter. To avoid winter dehydration, drink plenty of water and sports drinks, but avoid caffeine. alcohol, and energy drinks because they will make dehydration worse.

Equipment Dangers

Something else to be on the lookout for during the freezing temperatures are slick steps and grip plates on the equipment that can result in a nasty fall for your crew. Also remember that damp skin + frozen surfaces = painful problems, so be careful handling metal with bare hands.




Another potential problem area that could be an issue for less experienced operators is a lack of traction. In snowy, icy conditions, both tracks and wheels can slide. For every 10°F drop in temperature, the tires pressure will drop by 1 psi, so remind operators to check their machine’s tire pressure before going out.

To make matters more complicated, snow and ice can hide serious hazards. Visibility from inside equipment can be limited by condensation or icy windows.


Being near Houston, Texas, many of us here at Texas Final Drive don’t have much experience with prolonged icy cold weather -- but we know that many of our customers do. So keep safe out there, everybody!

Texas Final Drive is your partner in providing new or remanufactured final drive hydraulic motors from a single mini-excavator to a fleet of heavy equipment. Call today so we can find the right final drive or hydraulic component for you, or check out our online store to find your O.E.M. manufacturer brand motor now. 

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Topics: Winter

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