Safe Snow Handling for Snow-Mageddon of 2015

dave's 2nd floor snow

View from a Boston 2nd floor apartment

February is coming to a close and temperatures have still not gotten the hint. With New England and other parts of the country experiencing an absurd amount of snow and cold, it is more important than ever to make sure your workers are safe.

Roof collapses have become an obvious worry as snow piles up. To protect workers inside it is sometimes necessary to remove the snow above, but try to hire a professional if you can. They will have the right equipment and workers who are trained in this kind of activity.

A lot of businesses are still entrusting the task to their custodians or grounds keeping staff. Even these workers, whose job it is to maintain the building, likely do not have the necessary experience required to deal with this much snow. One custodian who was trying to clear snow off a school’s roof fell through a skylight she did not realize she was standing on. Thankfully it looks like she will be ok but other workers may not after taking a fall like that.

Other workers have fallen off of roofs, through roofs or been hit by snowplows. Massachusetts has released requirements for businesses who want to remove snow from their roofs. They suggest trying and having workers remove snow without even needing to be on the roof; though the old “stand on a ladder and pull snow down with a broom” method has proved to be dangerous sometimes too, as Youtube videos have shown us. If your workers are on the roof, provide fall protection and train employees in how to use the harnesses. Fall protection is required even if they’re working on a flat roof- unless there is a railing going around the whole perimeter of the roof.

You can be as careful as you want and not use fall protection, but if that snow starts to slide and there’s enough of it, it could easily take you or your workers with it. Beyond roof snow removal, there is the added peril of slip-and-fall injuries, as the snow ices over and workers try to navigate slippery sidewalks to get in, if they can get to work at all. Make sure your walkways and parking lots are clear and salted, and if you think it is necessary encourage your workers to work from home if they can.

And let’s all cross our fingers for an early spring.

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