Snow is no joking matter. With recent record snowfalls in Pennsylvania and Western New York, frigid temperatures in the Northeast and Midwest and another winter storm expected to impact the east coast, OSHA is urging all those involved in snow removal and cleanup to take precautions and focus on safety.
Workers performing snow removal operations may be exposed to serious hazards, including slips and falls while walking on snow and ice, falls from roofs and roof edges, falls through skylights or falls off of aerial ladders and lifts. Workers also may be injured by a roof collapse. Other storm recovery work hazards include being struck by vehicles, carbon monoxide, hypothermia and being injured by powered equipment.
Those working outdoors also may be at risk of cold stress, including first responders who are on duty for long periods of time. Anyone working outside for prolonged periods may experience cold stress with mild symptoms, such as shivering while remaining alert. Moderate to severe symptoms include shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slowness and loss of consciousness. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related injuries may occur, such as frostbite.