Archive

OSHA offers tips to guard against snow-removal hazards | TribLIVE.com
Regional

OSHA offers tips to guard against snow-removal hazards

Jeff Himler
GTRLOsnow0122142
Steph Chambers | Tribune-Review
John Carl, a worker with the City of Jeannette Public Works, uses a shovel to clear a sidewalk on the bridge along 2nd Street Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014.

Snow removal can be deadly without proper safeguards, so the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging workers and employers to be aware of and prepare for the potential hazards involved in the winter task.

Removing snow from rooftops or other elevated surfaces can be particularly perilous. Over the past decade, OSHA has investigated 16 serious injuries or fatalities involving such work — all of which could have been prevented, according to the agency.

To avoid falls, OSHA recommends using snow rakes or drag lines from the ground whenever possible to clear rooftops. Remove small amounts of snow at a time from a roof to avoid strain or being hit or buried by falling snow. Wear eye and head protection, especially when removing ice.

Evaluate the snow load on a roof and the additional weight of required workers and equipment before anyone climbs onto the roof to clear it. Remove snow uniformly across the roof, and avoid making snow piles, so as not to create an unbalanced load on the roof.

Other hazards involved in snow removal include being struck by a vehicle; eye injuries or amputations associated with use of snowblowers or other mechanized equipment; entrapment and suffocation under falling snow; electrocution from contacting power lines or damaged extension cords; musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion; frostbite or hypothermia from cold and windy conditions.

OSHA advises keeping yourself and your equipment at least 10 feet away from an energized power line; using a smaller shovel or taking up smaller scoops of snow if the snow is wet and heavy; lifting with your legs and keeping your back straight; taking frequent breaks and drinking fluids that don’t include caffeine or alcohol; wearing footwear that has good traction and insulation; taking short steps and walking at a slower pace.

More information is available at osha.gov/SLTC.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, [email protected] or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.