Snow Removal Hazards Important to Workers

Snow removal hazards become deadly when workers don't take proper safety precuations.As the season transition to the winter season, employers should begin focusing on educating workers about the hazards of snow removal. Each year, construction workers die while removing snow from rooftops or other building structures. Within the past decade, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has investigated 16 serious snow removal injuries or fatalities.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggests most snow removal injuries or fatalities can be prevented. Employers must become more aggressive at educating workers on how to properly handle the task at their job sites. In most cases, snow is removed to repair structures or prevent overloading and collapse. Workers use different methods to approach the operation, some of them highly unsafe.

Snow Removal Hazards Become Challenging

When removing snow, weather conditions may prove to be a challenge to deal with for many workers. Workers may be confronted with extreme cold, high winds, and icy surfaces. Construction workers tend to be transient. Many workers travel from state to state to pursue job opportunities. Because they previously resided in areas that did not receive a lot of snow fall, they may not have much direct experience with how to deal with heavy snow conditions.

Construction workers removing snow have to deal with numerous hazards. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers are at the greatest risk from falling.  In addition, workers can be injured or killed by a roof collapse. OSHA has investigated several snow removal incidents over the years including everything from fatal head injuries to falls from elevated height levels. Snow removal can also cause other serious hazards such as amputations, eye injuries, suffocation, electrocution, and frostbite.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) general duty clause requires employers to protect and educate workers on recognized serious hazards in the workplace including those associated with snow removal. The most serious hazards associated with snow removal are falls. OSHA advices employers to find ways to do snow removal that do not require workers to go on roofs. Workers should always use fall protection and know how to be safe using lifts and ladders. Lastly, the total weight of the snow, workers, and equipment on the roof should at all times be examined and compared to the load limit of the roof for safety purposes.

OSHA has it’s own recommendations on Winter Weather precautions on their Plan, Equip and Train site at