Braving The Elements To Work Outdoors

BUFFALO, NY – Having to work outside in bone chilling wind chills is for some, just part of working in Western New York.

The latest cold snap, however, even has some veterans of outdoor jobs shivering.

As the region experienced yet another bout of dangerously cold wind chill, one of the more challenging places to labor may have been at the foot of Main Street, where 120 construction workers were busy on the HarborCenter project, and where the wind was whipping unabated off of Lake Erie on Tuesday.

"I tell people that where I grew up, you learn to handle it, but you don't necessarily have to like it, said Justin Wurth, the project manager for Mortenson Construction, who is a native of South Dakota.

Despite his prairie roots, however, he concedes the weather has been a challenge.

"This ranks right up there," he replied, when asked what the coldest job site he ever oversaw was. "With the last couple of weeks I'd say this is probably getting to be one of the coldest."

However, the workers are well dressed, and well prepared with thermal gloves , head covers and other element combating accouterments.

There are also three warming centers within the bowels of the project, to be used when needed

"We're very cautious, and we remind the crews that every so often they need to get warmed up," Wurth told WGRZ-TV.

Wurth explained that despite the cold, they could continue with most of the work.

"There are certain thinks that are difficult when it gets too pouring concrete. That's why you see sections wrapped up with plastic and we bring in heaters to help raise the temperature a bit," he said.

As biting as the chill might be at ground level, however, one might wonder what it is like for those who operate the two sky cranes working on the site, stretching 12 stories in the air.

However, in reality, outside of the lengthy climb he has to make to get to his perch, the crane operator is among the most comfortable of the crew, in a heated cab. One of them was working in nothing more than a sweatshirt on Tuesday.

About the only thing that can stop him is high wind...and in fact on Monday, it did, effectively shutting down much of the other work at the site.

"When we get sustained winds of 30 or 35 MPH with higher gusts, they shut down ..and that's the life blood of a lot of what we're now doing. When we're on these decks , working with large pieces of steel, we need the cranes," he said.

Click on the video player to watch our story from 2 on Your Side Reporter Dave McKinley and Photojournalist Terry Belke. Follow Dave on Twitter: @DaveMcKinley2


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