With the winter weather upon us, it is important to make sure all of your employees are trained for fall protection safety taking into account the swift temperature changes, snow and ice factors and unpredictable conditions that can happen at a worksite during the winter. According to OSHA, every year workers are seriously injured or killed while removing snow from rooftops or other building structures (see article here). With that in mind, let's take a look at making snow removal safer.
There many reasons snow must be removed from a rooftop. It may be to prevent roof collapse or overloading depending on how much weight the roof can support or maybe repairs must be made to the roof's structure. No matter what the reason for the snow removal, if possible, it is best to try and remove the snow without going on the roof. Using ladders to apply de-icing material, or using snow rakes or drag lines from the ground is your best option for safety.
If you must go on the roof, require that workers use fall protection equipment. OSHA standards require employers to evaluate hazards and protect workers from falls when working at heights of 4 feet or more above a lower level (1910.23) or 6 feet or more for construction work (1926.501). It is important to make sure the fall safety equipment is fitting them snugly, if employees are removing snow in areas that are not adequately guarded. Make sure the worker(s) is aware of any hazards that might be on the roof and hidden by snow such as skylights, roof drains or vents. It is also important to protect the people on the ground from falling snow and ice during the removal process. Finally, have a rescue plan in place for a fallen worker caught by a fall protection system.
Here at W.S. Safety Technologies, fall protection safety is important all year long. As the seasons change, so do the hazards that come to worksites. Please take the time to train your employees so we can work to eliminate serious injuries. For more tips on how to plan ahead for safe snow removal from roofs please, click here.