Fort McCoy News Feb. 10, 2017

Winter, UXO safety top of mind at council meeting

Public Affairs Staff

Winter safety and unexploded ordnance, or UXO, were the main topics at the Jan. 30 meeting of the Safety and Occupational Health Advisory Council.

Safety is everyone's responsibility, especially when it comes to cold-weather injuries, said Safety Specialist Don Vender with the Installation Safety Office.

"We're in Wisconsin; it's going to get cold up here," Vender said. "All cold-weather injuries are preventable."

It's important to dress in layers, keep dry, stay hydrated, and take breaks in order to prevent cold-weather injuries. Vender also highlighted a few tools that are useful in winter weather, such as ice awls (similar to ice picks) to help people pull themselves out of icy water and slip-on cleats to provide traction while walking on ice.

Members of the Fort McCoy Safety and Health Advisory Council gather for a meeting Jan. 30 in building 50.
Members of the Fort McCoy Safety and Health Advisory Council gather for
a meeting Jan. 30 in building 50.

Vender said people also should pay attention to ice and snow build-up on their roofs. Icicles can be especially dangerous. "Those are projectiles," Vender said. "They can fall and kill you." Anyone who's concerned about ice or snow at their workplace can call in a work order to the Help Desk at 608-388-4357.

Vender also covered UXO safety. He said it's important for people to call in the experts (explosive ordnance disposal) and not try to deal with UXOs themselves, even if they know the usual color code markings for ammunition.

"OD (olive drab) green sitting out on a range for 10 years is going to fade and look like blue. If you see something out there, don't go by color," Vender said. "Just identify it as a hazard and recognize, retreat, and report."

While UXO clearing was conducted recently on the installation, it's still important to keep an eye out for UXO. Weather, especially the freeze and thaw cycles, can stir up the ground and help buried objects resurface.

"These things pop back up again," Vender said. "They rise to the surface."

Safety Manager Randy Eddy shared a story about a Fort McCoy contractor who was cutting down a tree when his chainsaw started sparking. When he stopped to take a closer look at the trunk, he found an artillery shell inside. The tree had grown around it.

Vender said the most important thing to remember about UXO is to follow the three R's.

"Recognize that you have a problem. Retreat the same way you came in. Report it to DES (Directorate of Emergency Services)," Vender said.

Anyone who sees UXO at Fort McCoy should call DES at 608-388-2000.

During the round-table session, garrison and tenant team members shared information about current and upcoming safety issues. Representatives of the Logistics Readiness Center and the 86th Training Division reminded council members about Operation Cold Steel, which starts in mid-February, and warned them to be cautious around the vehicles transporting live ammunition. The drivers aren't from the area and may not be familiar with operating in winter conditions.

Curt Ladwig with the Fort McCoy Fire Department reminded people to make sure their emergency exit paths are cleared of snow and ice in case of emergencies. He also recommended that people check to make sure their dryer vents are clear to reduce the likelihood of fire.

Sgt. Tony Green with the Wisconsin State Patrol Academy said people should remember to clear their vehicles of snow and ice before driving. Piled-up snow on top of a vehicle can shift and blind drivers by falling forward onto the windshield or blowing back onto a vehicle following behind. He also said it was important to give snow plows plenty of space and not follow them too closely.

For more information or help with safety issues at Fort McCoy, call the Installation Safety Office at 608-388-3403.