worker on the roof
Photo: Oleg Elkov/iStockphoto

New OSHA guide highlights hazards of snow and ice removal

January 23, 2019

Washington — OSHA has released a new resource guide for employers and workers involved in snow and ice removal activities.

Falls are the leading cause of injuries and fatalities among workers who remove ice and snow from rooftops and other structures, the agency points out. “Workers can fall off roof edges, through skylights, and from ladders and aerial lifts,” the pamphlet states. “A roof collapse can also hurt or fatally injure workers.”

Other hazards include frostbite and hypothermia; back injuries from slips, trips, falls or overexertion; falling ice; shock or electrocution from power lines or extension cords; and aerial lift collapses or tip-overs.

Before work begins, OSHA advises employers to plan ahead, look for hazards, and train workers on identifying fall and electrical hazards. Training also should include proper use of ladders, aerial lifts and protective equipment based on manufacturers’ guidelines.

The resource suggests employers limit worker access to roofs or other structures during snow removal, and reminds workers that snow can hide hazards, including power lines; chemical or heating, ventilation, and air conditioning lines; or other equipment on roofs that could rupture if struck.