As snow comes down every winter, contractors go up, taking to the rooftops to clear away accumulating precipitation.Not only can this help prevent roofs from collapsing under the weight, but it also makes it possible for crews to resume construction or repair decking or roofs. As crucial as snow and ice removal can be, however, it is never worth risking the life or well being of an employee.
Even still, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports that workers are killed or seriously injured during winter weather cleanup every year. The agency's investigations have found that most of these fatalities and injuries happen because of preventable falls off roof edges, through skylights and from ladders and aerial lifts.
To avoid these incidents, OSHA urges contractors to plan ahead for safe snow removal. To make sure you're prepared to offer your employees the safest possible work environment, ask yourself these questions before winter weather rolls in:
- Are there hazards on the roof that might be hidden by falling snow that will need to be marked?
- Can we remove snow without going onto the roof?
- What are the maximum load limits of the roof?
- What type of fall protection will my employees need?
- What training will workers need to work safely in cold conditions?
Depending on how you answered the above questions, consider adding these best practices to your accident prevention plan:
- Avoid creating snow piles
- Equip all workers with adequate fall protection.
- Remove snow uniformly
- Use ladders to apply de-icing materials
- Use snow rakes and drag lines when appropriate so that workers do not need to climb onto roofs
For more information about how to keep your employees safe during snow removal or for assistance ensuring your worksites are compliant with the latest OSHA regulations, contact Safety Advantage today.