Friday, March 6, 2015

OSHA Issues Rooftop Snow Removal Hazard Alert

Snow has been a major issue this winter in many places, especially the East Coast, where more than
100 in. have fallen in parts of Massachusetts alone, requiring workers to complete extremely dangerous tasks.

Based on findings of OSHA work site investigations, falls cause the most worker fatalities and injuries during rooftop snow removal. Workers may fall off roof edges, through skylights, and from ladders and aerial lifts. Workers also may be injured or killed by a roof collapse.

Two workers died in February and two more were injured
 in separate incidents from falls while clearing snow from roofs. OSHA has investigated 16 such serious injuries or deaths in the past 10 years, all of which could have been prevented.

To prevent worker injury when removing snow from roofs, OSHA requires employers to take the following precautions.
  • Use snow removal methods that do not involve workers going onto roofs, when possible.
  • Provide fall protection equipment to workers who go onto roofs.
  • Guard skylights so workers do not fall through.
  • Mark skylights, roof drains and vents that might be hidden by the snow.
  • Avoid contact with electrical power lines. Keep ladders, aerial lifts and workers at least 10 ft away from power lines.
  • Evaluate weight load exerted on the roof to ensure that it can hold the snow plus workers and equipment. Do not pile snow on roof.
  • Train workers to recognize fall hazards, use fall protection harnesses and anchor points correctly, use aerial lifts safely, use ladders safely and avoid electrical power lines.
  • Protect people on the ground from snow and ice falling off the roof during removal operations.
View OSHA's hazard alert to learn more about removing snow from rooftops and other elevated surfaces.