Keep your employees and customers safe with these tips on snow removal and safety. In addition to cold stress, there are other winter weather-related hazards that workers may be exposed to when performing tasks such as driving in the snow, removing snow from rooftops, and working near downed or damaged power lines.
Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, particularly because cold weather can be tasking on the body. There is a potential for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks. During snow removal, in addition to following the tips for avoiding cold stress such as taking frequent breaks in warm areas, there are other precautions workers can take to avoid injuries. Workers should warm up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time, and where possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. The use of proper lifting technique is necessary to avoid back and other injuries. When shoveling snow: keep the back straight, lift with the legs, and do not turn or twist the body.
Preventing Slips on Snow & Ice
To prevent slips, trips and falls, employers should clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm. In addition, the following precautions will help reduce the likelihood of injuries.
Wear proper footwear when walking on snow or ice is unavoidable, because it is especially treacherous. A pair of insulated and water-resistant boots with good rubber treads is a must for walking during or after a winter storm. Keeping a pair of rubber over-shoes with good treads, which fit over your street shoes, is a good idea during the winter months.
Take short steps and walk at a slower pace so you can react quickly to a change in traction, when walking on an icy or snow-covered walkway.
Clearing Snow from Roofs & Working at Heights
Employers must evaluate snow removal tasks for hazards and plan how to do the work safely. Workers should be aware of the potential for unexpected hazards due to the weather conditions. For example, layers of ice can form as the environmental temperature drops, making surfaces even more slippery. A surface that is weighed down by snow must be inspected by a competent person to determine if it is structurally safe for workers to access it, because it may be at risk of collapsing. Snow-covered rooftops can hide hazards such as skylights that workers can fall through. Electrical hazards may also exist from overhead power lines or snow removal equipment.
Employers can protect workers from these hazardous work conditions, for example, by using snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs, when and where possible. Employers should determine the right type of equipment (ladders, aerial lifts, etc.) and personal protective equipment (personal fall arrest systems, non-slip safety boots, etc.) for the job, and ensure that workers are trained on how to properly use them.