Take care to prevent injuries during snow removal and cleanup, warns OSHA

by Brianna Crandall — January 5, 2018 — With recent record snowfalls in Pennsylvania and Western New York, along with frigid temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest, as well as the current “bomb cyclone” pummeling the East Coast, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging all employees and employers involved in snow removal and cleanup to take precautions and focus on safety.

Workers performing snow removal operations may be exposed to serious hazards, including slips and falls while walking on snow and ice, or falls from roofs and roof edges, through skylights, or from aerial ladders and lifts. Workers may also be injured by a roof collapse.  Other storm recovery work hazards include being struck by vehicles, inhaling carbon monoxide, getting hypothermia from extremely cold temperatures, or being injured by powered equipment.

Those working outdoors may also be at risk of cold stress, including first responders who are on duty for long periods of time, notes OSHA. Anyone working outside for prolonged periods may experience cold stress with mild symptoms, such as shivering while remaining alert. Moderate to severe symptoms include shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slowness, and loss of consciousness.  When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related injuries may occur, such as frostbite.

A full list of winter storm hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA’s Winter Weather: Plan. Equip. Train. Web page.