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Hazard Alert: Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow from Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces

January 28, 2015 Comments off

Hazard Alert: Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow from Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces
Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration

Every year, workers are killed or seriously injured while performing snow or ice removal from rooftops and other building structures, such as decks. OSHA has investigated 16 such serious injuries or fatalities in the past 10 years—all of which could have been prevented.

Snow removal is performed for a number of reasons, such as to prevent overloading and collapse, or for construction or repair of decking or roofs. Often workers climb directly onto the roofs or structures and use equipment such as shovels, snow rakes, snow blowers, ladders, etc. Other times these operations may be performed from the ground level using snow rakes. Aerial lifts are sometimes used to access roofs and apply de-icing materials. Snow removal operations are often performed under extreme weather conditions (e.g., cold, high winds, icy surfaces). Workers who perform these activities (for example, building maintenance workers) may have little experience or training on the hazards of such operations or work.

Workers performing snow removal operations are exposed to many serious hazards. Based on the findings of OSHA investigations falls cause the most worker fatalities and injuries during rooftop snow removal. Workers may fall off roof edges, through skylights, and from ladders and aerial lifts. Workers may also be injured or killed by a roof collapse.

See also: Working in a Winter Wonderland: 4 Things to Know in the Snow

New From the GAO

January 21, 2015 Comments off

New From the GAO
Source: Government Accountability Office

Report

1. Defense Headquarters: DOD Needs to Reassess Personnel Requirements for the Office of Secretary of Defense, Joint Staff, and Military Service Secretariats. GAO-15-10, January 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-10
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667998.pdf

Testimonies

1. Aviation Safety: Issues Related to Domestic Certification and Foreign Approval of U.S. Aviation Products, by Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D., director, physical infrastructure issues, before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. GAO-15-327T, January 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-327T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667990.pdf

2. VA Construction: VA’s Actions to Address Cost Increases and Schedule Delays at Major Medical-Facility Projects, by David Wise, director, physical infrastructure team, before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. GAO-15-332T, January 21.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-332T
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667986.pdf

Reissue

1. Polar Weather Satellites: NOAA Needs To Prepare for Near-term Data Gaps. GAO-15-47, December 16.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-15-47
Highlights – http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/667585.pdf
Podcast – http://www.gao.gov/multimedia/podcasts/667259

On January 16, 2015, this report was reissued to include the Highlights page that was inadvertently missing from the previously posted report.

 

NCDC Releases 2014 Global Climate Report

January 16, 2015 Comments off

NCDC Releases 2014 Global Climate Report
Source: NOAA

The globally averaged temperature over land and ocean surfaces for 2014 was the highest among all years since record keeping began in 1880, according to NOAA scientists. The December combined global land and ocean average surface temperature was also the highest on record.

See also: NASA, NOAA Find 2014 Warmest Year in Modern Record

Does the Environment Still Matter? Daily Temperature and Income in the United States

January 13, 2015 Comments off

Does the Environment Still Matter? Daily Temperature and Income in the United States (PDF)
Source: National Bureau of Economic Research (non-paywall version)

It is widely hypothesized that incomes in wealthy countries are insulated from environmental conditions because individuals have the resources needed to adapt to their environment. We test this idea in the wealthiest economy in human history. Using within-county variation in weather, we estimate the effect of daily temperature on annual income in United States counties over a 40-year period. We find that this single environmental parameter continues to play a large role in overall economic performance: productivity of individual days declines roughly 1.7% for each 1°C (1.8°F) increase in daily average temperature above 15°C (59°F). A weekday above 30°C (86°F) costs an average county $20 per person. Hot weekends have little effect. These estimates are net of many forms of adaptation, such as factor reallocation, defensive investments, transfers, and price changes. Because the effect of temperature has not changed since 1969, we infer that recent uptake or innovation in adaptation measures have been limited. The non-linearity of the effect on different components of income suggest that temperature matters because it reduces the productivity of the economy’s basic elements, such as workers and crops. If counties could choose daily temperatures to maximize output, rather than accepting their geographically- determined endowment, we estimate that annual income growth would rise by 1.7 percentage points. Applying our estimates to a distribution of “business as usual” climate change projections indicates that warmer daily temperatures will lower annual growth by 0.06-0.16 percentage points in the United States unless populations engage in new forms of adaptation.

NCDC Releases 2014 U.S. Climate Report

January 9, 2015 Comments off

NCDC Releases 2014 U.S. Climate Report
Source: NOAA

The 2014 annual average contiguous U.S. temperature was 52.6°F, 0.5°F above the 20th century average. This ranked as the 34th warmest year in the 1895–2014 record. Very warm conditions dominated the West, while the Midwest and Mississippi Valley were cool.

The average contiguous U.S. precipitation was 30.76 inches, 0.82 inch above average, and ranked as the 40th wettest year in the 120-year period of record. The northern United States was wet, and the Southern Plains were dry; the national drought footprint shrank about 2 percent.

In 2014, there were eight weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These eight events resulted in the deaths of 53 people. The events include: the western U.S. drought, the Michigan and Northeast flooding event, five severe storm events, and one winter storm event.

Budgeting for Cold Weather Care and Maintenance

January 6, 2015 Comments off

Budgeting for Cold Weather Care and Maintenance
Source: IBISWorld

Winter means colder temperatures, increased rainfall and snowfall and, for many businesses, paying for the seasonal products and services they need to combat the effects of winter weather on their daily operations. Fortunately, by understanding the dynamics of the markets for these products and services and forming a strategy for key winter purchases, businesses can lower costs in the coming months and over the long term.

Five products and services that are key for businesses during the winter months are ice and snow surface treatments, snow removal services, HVAC system construction and maintenance services, window and door installation services and portable generators. While some of the vendors of these products and services receive consistent demand year round, limiting the availability of seasonal discounts, those that offer winter-specific products must work hard to stay in business during the warmer seasons. Buyers that act early can, consequently, often capitalize on favorable pricing to reduce their cold-weather expenditures and operating costs.

Association of Weekly Suicide Rates with Temperature Anomalies in Two Different Climate Types

January 6, 2015 Comments off

Association of Weekly Suicide Rates with Temperature Anomalies in Two Different Climate Types
Source: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Annual suicide deaths outnumber the total deaths from homicide and war combined. Suicide is a complex behavioral endpoint, and a simple cause-and-effect model seems highly unlikely, but relationships with weather could yield important insight into the biopsychosocial mechanisms involved in suicide deaths. This study has been designed to test for a relationship between air temperature and suicide frequency that is consistent enough to offer some predictive abilities. Weekly suicide death totals and anomalies from Toronto, Ontario, Canada (1986–2009) and Jackson, Mississippi, USA (1980–2006) are analyzed for relationships by using temperature anomaly data and a distributed lag nonlinear model. For both analysis methods, anomalously cool weeks show low probabilities of experiencing high-end suicide totals while warmer weeks are more likely to experience high-end suicide totals. This result is consistent for Toronto and Jackson. Weekly suicide totals demonstrate a sufficient association with temperature anomalies to allow some prediction of weeks with or without increased suicide frequency. While this finding alone is unlikely to have immediate clinical implications, these results are an important step toward clarifying the biopsychosocial mechanisms of suicidal behavior through a more nuanced understanding of the relationship between temperature and suicide.

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