As we trudge through the winter months, lurching from snowstorm to cold snap to snowstorm to cold snap, there is one unceasing, wearying constant: shoveling snow.

Handling the accumulated weight of the flakes is no easy task and can result in slips, falls and injuries.

Hazards of snow removal

In a new brochure, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cautions that removing snow – especially from rooftops and decks – can be dangerous and that your employer has the responsibility to keep you safe.

OSHA cautions that most injuries occur when rooftop snow removers fall off roof edges, through skylights or off ladders or aerial lifts.

Some possible injuries that could result from improper safety training or equipment usage include:

  • Eye injuries from falling ice
  • Heart attacks
  • Blunt trauma injuries from snow blowers and other equipment
  • Collapses or tip-overs from aerial lift equipment
  • Suffocation under falling drifts or piles
  • Shock or electrocution from power lines or extension cords
  • Frostbite or hypothermia
  • Back injuries from slips, trips, falls and overexertion
  • Rupture of chemical/HVAC lines on roofs that are buried in snow

Your employers responsibilities

Your employer has the responsibility to provide you with a safe workplace. To do so, you must be receive proper training to avoid accidents, to use protective equipment, to avoid falls, and to use ladders and aerial lift equipment.

Your employer must provide you with all the proper safety equipment and have a plan to rescue any worker who is trapped under snow or caught in fall protection equipment