The weather was better when I was young
Over the last 20 years, the number of natural disasters has increased by 400% worldwide. It is predicted that incidents caused by extreme weather will increase in the future, and that their effects will be even greater. This is partly a consequence of our society becoming increasingly dependent on technology.
Weather-related problems in the Arctic areas of Europe involve storms, cold, slipperiness, hot weather, floods, inversion, drought, avalanches, landslides, and UV radiation. These problems cause many inconveniences, including effects on work.
Harsh Weather Testing Network
Solutions for living and working in harsh environments, and harsh weather testing are of great interest in Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway. Many organizations work in the field of cold testing and cold climate technology, such as the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health (FIOH) in Finland, the Municipality of Arvidsjaur, and the Emergency and Disaster Medical Centre (AKMC) in Umeå in Sweden, and the Norut Narvik Northern Research Institute in Norway.
The aim of the “Harsh Weather Testing Network” project (years 2010-2013) is to create a novel transnational network between project partners and small- and medium-sized companies, and to find and encourage other organizations that provide testing services to join the network.
The areas of expertise of these organizations cover
- research on human responses to cold
- the effects of cold on health and physical work capacity
- health care related to cold
- patient transportation over long distances
- protection against cold with clothing
- applied research on the behaviour of materials, vehicles and structures subjected to low temperatures, wind, snow and ice.
The concrete results of the project are the new testing and planning services:
- methods for testing patient protective equipment and personal protective clothing
- a tool to assess human physical work capacity and thermal and physiological stain
- a method for analysing winter driving for both professional and private drivers in harsh conditions
- information packages on improved working methods and risk assessment in harsh weather
- finding solutions for the optimal functioning of machinery and components through consulting services should become easier
Look at the YouTube video about Harsh Weather Testing Services.
Contact and join the network: www.harshnet.eu
Venla Räisänen, Ville Hyvärinen, Kirsi Jussila and Sirkka Rissanen
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Finland
Example: Risk assessment tool
As the risk of accidents increases in harsh weather, good risk assessment is important. The project created a new, out-of-the-box harsh weather risk assessment tool, and procedures especially for small- and medium-sized companies. The risk assessment is based on the participation of personnel and supervisors, and the basic question is: What will the next serious harsh weather-related accident be in your company? Answering that question, gives a company a variety of the most typical accidents. The next step is to find the most efficient ways to avoid those accidents. The risk assessment tool is recommended to be used when updating company’s risk assessments.
The project is financed by Interreg IV A North, the Regional Council of Lapland, the North Calotte Council, Nordland County, and the County Administrative Board of Norrbotten. The project coordinator is the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.