Construction Workers in Upper Midwest: “Toughest Of The Tough”

While most people are inside escaping the cold temps, some have to brave the cold in order to get the job done.

It takes a special type of person to be a construction worker in the Upper Midwest.

Dealing with some frigid temps is part of the job. So, what does it take to bring them inside?
For most people, an extremely cold day is a good enough reason to stay indoors.

But to be a construction worker here you can’t be like most people.
“Maybe have three days in nine years that we didn’t work,” says Northland Custom Carpentry Owner, Robert Spieker.
Spieker says his crews don’t head indoors until the temperature reaches negative forty and he’s not talking about wind chill.
“The only reason we stop working at 40 below air temp is because the air won’t move through the lines on the tools,” says Spieker.
“I think sometimes they act tougher than they are,” says Essentia Health Physician Assistant, Jamie Zink.
She says with 19 below temperatures, people can develop frostbite in less than 10 minutes.

But it looks like the 40 degree below zero rule doesn’t apply to everyone.
“When we can’t stand outside for like 10 minutes without our skin burning or wind burn,” says laborer, Dave Presnell.
“Workers say they brave most weather conditions but it’s the wind that gets them. Today is the first day of the year they’re staying inside.”
And it seems like every worker has their own philosophy to keeping warm. For Dave, you won’t see him on a break.
“Our philosophy is if you keep moving you stay warmer,” says Presnell.
“Some of the things they can do to prepare for it is wear layers not just one sweatshirt,” says Zink.
And while Zink has her suggestions, remember you’re talking to the toughest of the tough.
“You just got to be tough you got to be tough,” says Spieker.
 A lot of the construction workers develop wind burn on the job.

But Zink says wind burn can be one of the initial signs of getting frostbite.

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