Ice Safety For Working On Ice

Ice safety for working on ice is a key component of the ice training offered at Raven.

As a rescue trainer, we run controlled scenarios during our courses in ideal conditions.  Controlled scenarios allow us to practice skills that have the potential to be very dangerous if attempted in an unregulated setting. Practicing these skills in ideal conditions enables participants to develop powerful tools that they can access when faced with similar situations in the field.

In reality, workers are regularly placed in situations far beyond the ideal world we create during our training scenarios.  Transferring skills developed under ideal conditions into practical ice safety for working on ice becomes critical.

We want to make this skill transfer as seamless as possible – and creating open discussion about real work settings allows us to anticipate the challenges our participants will face when they bring their training to the job site.

Ideal-To-Real Ice Safety For Working On Ice

With this goal in mind, we ran a survey to gather information about the real work settings that our clients face on ice.  Working on ice magnifies the ideal-to-real challenge for two reasons:

  1. During ice rescue training, we are able to eliminate many of the variables that present real-world hazards to workers. We have time, local knowledge, and a number of skilled participants on our side.
  2. In the real world, workers face tight timelines, rapidly changing environments, poorly trained (or untrained) co-workers, and one of the biggest hazards of all… working solo.

Here is a profile of our survey respondents:

Challenges Faced By Workers On Ice

Two notable challenges were identified:

  1. Working alone, or with others who lack training. Some respondents face the reality of working alone, or with people who do not have ice rescue training.  This leaves the respondent wondering – what will happen to me if I’m the one that needs to be rescued?
  2. Assessing Conditions. Reading the ice was unanimously the greatest challenge faced by respondents – some feel limited by their lack of practice, others must grapple with unpredictable conditions near shorelines or around aerators, and others are trying to determine if the ice will hold up under the weight of the equipment required for their job.  Many are constantly placed in new environments, and feel that their lack of local knowledge limits their ability to make accurate assessments.

What can Raven do to improve the ideal-to-real transfer for workers on ice? We’ve built up a collection of resources to support workers heading out onto frozen surfaces. Check them out:

  • Self-belay system field-guide card
  • Ice condition checklist
Weak Ice by Bonnie Pryce