Cold weather work

Winter weather in Toronto can be bitterly cold.

During winter, the safety of airport employees who work outside on the area known as the ramp or apron is a top priority. These employees maintain the airfield, unload planes, guide aircraft to their gate and prepare flights for their next take off. Because of their exposure to winter weather, they need to take special care.

Measuring airfield temperatures

At Pearson, we use WetBulb Globe Temperature (WGBT) monitoring, which is different than your average mercury-based thermometer. A WGBT monitor measures temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle and cloud cover to create a more realistic rating of the conditions outside.

How we protect ramp workers from the cold

Cold weather can be dangerous for outdoor workers if they are outside for a long time. Extreme cold can impair someone’s ability to work safely and make it more difficult to operate machinery used to move heavy loads or unload aircraft.

To break up the time spent outside, ramp workers have breaks in between incoming or outgoing flights to warm up in sheltered areas. Outdoor crews are also outfitted with winter gloves, coats and hats so that they are prepared for the elements. Airside Safety Officers patrol the area to make sure that the procedures for snow clearing and winter driving are being followed, keeping the area clear for ground servicing staff.

How cold temperatures affect passengers

In times of extreme cold, outdoor workers may be operating at a slower pace because of the dangerous weather conditions. Machinery and hydraulics need extra time to warm up, so they often idle on the airfield until they need to be used. Because cold weather can cause things to slow down on the ramp, this may cause a small delay for an arriving or departing flight.

Safety is the top priority at Toronto Pearson and we know that our passengers understand the need to protect workers. In times of extreme cold, workers operate as effectively as possible to continue processing luggage and preparing planes for departure, so that passengers can have the best possible travel experience.

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