Jainchill & Beckert, LLC

OSHA gives advice on safe snow removal

Connecticut winters can be harsh, and unfortunately, many people injure themselves in the process of removing snow. Seeing that this is a nationwide issue, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has given some advice on how workers can safely remove snow.

In recent years, OSHA has seen a rise in the number of fall-related injuries and deaths, with many neglecting the organization's fall protection guidelines. Over the past decade, it has investigated 16 cases of workers being injured or killed while removing snow from roofs and other elevated surfaces.

As a solution, workers are encouraged to use snow rakes or draglines when possible; this removes the need for going up the roof. They should remove only a little snow at a time since overexertion can lead to musculoskeletal injuries. A small shovel, especially for wet snow, is recommended. They should avoid making piles on the roof, as the load will weaken areas of the roof; calculating the weight that the workers will add to the roof is also important. When removing ice, employees should wear eye and head protection.

Power lines can cause electrocution, so OSHA advises workers to keep themselves at least 10 feet away from them. Workers should always be aware of what's happening above their heads, as they could risk being trapped and suffocated in the snow. Frequent breaks are also essential.

On-the-job injuries are not always the fault of the employer. In such cases, the victims can file for workers' compensation benefits and have any medical expenses and lost wages covered. Still, it might be wise to consult with a lawyer to ensure that they receive the maximum amount: the state has a cap on workers' compensation. If an accident was the result of the employer's negligence, however, victims may opt for a personal injury claim; a lawyer may be able to help with litigation.

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