Seasonal safety: Winter Injury prevention Workplace exposures

OSHA urges employers, workers to be safe when removing snow

cold weather

Photo: Washington State Department of Transportation

Washington – Although winter is coming to an end, OSHA is reminding employers and workers to be cautious when removing snow from roofs and other structures.

Snow can cause a structure to collapse and obscure skylights that workers can fall through, according to an OSHA hazard alert. Falls are the leading cause of worker deaths and injuries during rooftop snow removal, OSHA states. Additionally, power lines and snow-removal equipment can pose electrical hazards, and exposure to cold and physical exertion can result in injuries and illness.

A competent person should inspect a snow-covered surface to ensure it is safe for workers, the bulletin states. Employers should provide proper personal protective equipment – including personal fall arrest systems and non-slip boots – and ensure workers are trained in how to use them.

OSHA offers the following guidance for safe snow removal:

  • Remove snow without workers climbing onto roofs.
  • Require workers to use fall protection equipment.
  • Ensure workers safely use ladders and aerial lifts.
  • Use ladders to apply de-icing materials.
  • From the ground, use snow rakes or drag lines.