Winter weather creates particular risks for workers removing snow
All of these deaths could have been prevented, according to OSHA. The agency is reminding employers they are required to protect their workers engaged in snow removal activity.
"Snow removal operations are often performed under extreme weather conditions," according to OSHA. "Workers who perform these activities -- for example, building maintenance workers -- may have little experience or training on the hazards of such operations or work."
While workers removing snow are exposed to a variety of serious hazards, falls cause the most injuries and fatalities, according to the agency. "Workers may fall off roof edges, through skylights, and from ladders and aerial lifts. Workers may also be injured or killed by a roof collapse."
Employers are advised to consider whether snow can be removed without having workers going onto a roof. Also, hazards that could be hidden by the snow should be marked.
Additionally, OSHA advises employers to:
- Train workers on fall hazards and the proper use of fall protection equipment.
- Provide and ensure that workers use fall protection equipment if they are removing snow in areas that are not adequately guarded.
- Instruct workers who wear personal fall protection equipment to put on their harnesses and buckle them snugly before mounting the roof.
- Have a plan for rescuing a fallen worker caught by a fall protection system.
- Remove or clearly mark rooftop or landscaping features that could become trip hazards.
Workers standing on the ground should be protected from falling snow that could suffocate them. OSHA says employers should mark a safe work zone in the area where the snow is to be removed.
Additional injuries such as amputations and eye injuries may occur while workers are using mechanized equipment -- snow blowers -- while removing snow from roofs. OSHA recommends these workers wear eye protection.
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February 18, 2013
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