Step outside and you’ll notice that the air is brisk and people are bundled up in coats. Winter is upon us. And while that brings festive parties and holiday deals, winter means extra strains on wire and cable. Cold temperatures and atmospheric changes that come with winter weather can impact the effectiveness of some cabling materials. Prepare for cool weather and winter storms to ensure uninterrupted operation that’s reliable every day of the year.
Learn how winter weather can impact wire and cable and how to prepare for those seasonal challenges.
Know Your Local Area
The properties of materials used in electrical equipment can be affected by low temperatures. Components that are damaged by cold weather may become unsafe or even unusable. Research your local climate to learn what temperature changes your area may expect in the winter. Review manufacturer's instructions and learn local electrical code requirements to ensure that your wiring is compliant. If necessary, make changes to installation and operational methods to ease the effects of low temperatures.
Choose the Right Materials
Low temperatures can cause metals to become brittle. This makes it difficult for wire and cable insulation to withstand impact and excessive bending. When faced with vibration, expansion or contraction, the materials could fracture. Components like fasteners, mounting structures and equipment housings are more vulnerable to damage caused by low temperatures.
Plastics can react the same way as metals in cold temperatures. In some plastics, embrittlement can occur in temperatures as high as 32°F. When choosing wire and cable, make sure the components are made from materials that will withstand local weather and temperature changes.
Dealing With Static
Because cold air holds less moisture, winter is typically the driest season of the year. The lack of humidity means more static electricity is in the air. Electricity and Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) can damage computer components and blow fuses. Static electricity can build up on plastic surfaces, creating problems with electrical equipment. Meters and other sensitive electronics may give incorrect readings because of static electricity. Facilities like data centers that contain a lot of wiring and cabling should abide by acceptable humidity ranges to protect components from static.
Take Care During Installation
Cold temperatures can make the biggest impact on wire and cable during installation. A cable’s installation temperature is defined as the lowest temperature recommended for the installation. Generally, the installation temperature is found by increasing the cold temperature rating by 10°C to 20°C. Cables should be kept indoors in a temperature-controlled facility for one day before installation in a cold environment. After taking a cable out of storage, be careful to not drop or overbend it during installation. By taking the necessary precautions, your wire and cable will be positioned to effectively withstand winter weather.
Don’t Get Caught Off Guard
Winter storms and extreme weather often come unexpectedly. By preparing for cold temperatures, your wire and cabling will be able to handle any seasonal surprises. Best of all, you won’t have to repair damaged equipment later on. Review maintenance manuals and choose materials suitable for local weather so your equipment will be ready to operate on the coldest days of the year.
When you’re standing or sitting at work for long periods of time, there’s nothing worse than sore legs and feet. Every year, two million sick days are lost to lower limb disorders. Ergonomic injuries come at a high cost. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, $1 of every $3 spent on workers’ compensation comes from insufficient ergonomic protection. It’s clear that taking steps to prevent these injuries is well worth it.
Electrical equipment is only as effective as it is protected. Whether you’re indoors, outdoors, exposed to water, or facing harsh weather conditions, electrical equipment needs to be protected by an enclosure. Choosing the right electrical enclosure requires some knowledge of electrical standards. Ratings from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) provide guidance on what level of protection your enclosure needs depending on the environmental factors it is subjected to.
Slips, trips and falls are some of the most preventable workplace accidents, yet the numbers don’t seem to prove it. Second only to motor vehicles, incidents related to slips, trips and falls account for 15 percent of accidental deaths. They can also cost an employer an average of tens of thousands of dollars per incident.
Did you know that four million workers go to work each day in damaging noise? In just one year, 23,000 cases were reported of occupational hearing loss that was great enough to cause hearing impairment. And these are only the cases that were reported! From these statistics, it’s clear that we’re not doing enough to prevent hearing loss at work. Employers give earplugs and earmuffs to employees, but getting employees to wear them when they need to is another story altogether.