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Stay Safe While Removing Snow from Rooftops This Winter

Removing snow and ice from rooftops is necessary for numerous reasons, most importantly, to prevent overloading or collapse. Each year while performing this task, workers are severely injured or killed. After conducting investigations, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that these injuries were preventable. 

To prevent these accidents, there are a few tips from OSHA: 

  • Use snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs, when and where possible
  • Evaluate loads exerted on roof or structure (e.g., total weight of snow, workers and equipment used), compared to the load limit of the roofs
  • Require that workers use fall protection equipment
  • Ensure that workers use ladders and aerial lifts safely
  • Use ladders to apply de-icing materials
  • Use snow rakes or drag lines from the ground

OSHA advises against workers going on the roof to remove snow, but if it is unavoidable, then you should be sure to do the following:

  • Use Required Fall Protection
    • Train workers on fall hazards and the proper use of fall protection equipment, as required by 1910.132(f)(1) and 1926.503(a)(1)
    • Provide and ensure that workers use fall protection equipment if they are removing snow in areas that are not adequately guarded, as required by STD 01-01-013 and 1926.501(b)
  • Remove snow uniformly across the roof
  • Avoid making snow piles on the roof

Aerial lifts is a suggested method by OSHA. If using aerial lifts, OSHA suggests the following:

  • Make sure that workers who operate aerial lifts are properly trained in the safe use of the equipment, as required by 1910.67(c)(2)(ii) and 1926.454
  • Maintain and operate elevating work platforms according to the manufacturer’s instructions
  • Never override hydraulic, mechanical, or electrical safety devices
  • Never move the equipment with workers in an elevated platform unless this is permitted by the manufacturer, as required by 1926.453(b) (2)(viii) and 1910.67(c)(2)(viii)
  • Do not allow workers to climb or stand on the lift’s railing
  • Use outriggers, if provided
  • Do not exceed the load limits of the equipment

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