Sioux Falls construction company halts all outside jobs with bitter cold on the way

Published: Jan. 28, 2019 at 9:12 PM CST
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With bitterly cold temperatures on the way, it's not going to be safe for anyone to be outside for any stretch of time.

For some, their job entails being out in almost any temperature.

“We kind of have to anticipate anything and everything happening,” Henry Carlson Construction president Jerry Fromm said.

South Dakota is bracing for some of the coldest temperatures we've seen in decades.

“There could be serious injury to exposure to cold like that,” Fromm said. “Frostbite obviously and then even death if it would get people that are exposed for too long of a time and their bodies can’t recover from it.”

Construction workers have to spend a lot of time outside. It comes with the territory.

But, when temperatures plummet to extreme levels below zero, safety with equipment and the crew, goes to the top of everyone's mind.

“There can be life safety issues with the hydraulics on it such as cranes and boom lifts and scissor lifts,” Fromm said. “They may not be thinking correctly if they start to get too cold and get into those early stages of hypothermia. Steel gets extremely slippery when it’s cold and you may have frost on it or snow on your boots.”

That’s why construction for workers with Henry Carlson in Sioux Falls has nearly stopped this week.

“When its 10 degrees below zero or wind chill is 10 below zero we shut the job down,” Henry Carlson Construction superintendent Scott Mohr said. “Send our guys home while we try to find a place to work inside.”

Out of their 15 to 20 projects currently underway, only about half are inside.

“On this job we've got the vertical expansion going so we can send guys up top to work inside, but otherwise outside is pretty much shut down,” Mohr said.

Shutting down work because of the cold isn't any type of happy surprise as you might think.

“Every day we miss creates a situation where we have to recover from those missed days,” Fromm said. “Some are excited and some are kind of bummed out. A lot of the folks need to get their hours in to keep their paychecks up so they can pay the bills.”

They'll lose those hours and production, but they’ll be safe.

“It’s just, production is way down,” Mohr said. “You can’t get anything done. The guys are going in and out trying to keep warm and stuff like that. Then they'll get sick. You don’t get anything done when it’s cold.”

Fromm said their crew will not be doing any outside work Tuesday through Thursday morning.

They’re hoping to get some outdoor work done on Thursday afternoon if the temperatures allow.