It’s never an easy task to perform work on a roof, but ice, snow, and chilly winds can add to the risks. Every year people are seriously injured or killed while removing snow from elevated structures, and almost all of these are preventable.
OSHA has very specific guidelines to help keep workers safe while removing snow from rooftops, decks, and other elevated surfaces. Here are a few key points we’d like to share with you.
Use Required Fall Protection
Workers should be knowledgeable about the hazards they could encounter at each location and be trained how to use their fall protection equipment — this includes an anchor point, full-body harness and lanyard. It also means providing life-saving guardrails and railings in strategic locations for fall prevention.
Clear the Way
Often, the injuries sustained in a fall are caused by hitting an obstacle nearby or on the ground. That’s why it’s important to make sure the surrounding area is cleared from any large objects or equipment that could create potential hazards during a fall. Also, make sure people on the ground below are safe from falling snow, ice, and debris during the operation.
Evaluate the Load
Before the snowy season even begins, examine the roof and determine the total weight load and how the weight of the snow will affect it. Then be sure to add in the extra weight of any people and snow removal equipment.
Locate and Expose Skylights
Clear snow away from all skylights, vents, and other potential hazards on the roof that could be hidden by snow accumulation. Install guardrails and railings to assure safety among obstacles.
Be Diligent About Ladder Safety
What seems like ordinary ladder placement doesn’t always hold true when working in the snow. Be sure to clean off any snow or ice from ladder rungs as well as your shoes to prevent slipping. Never use a snow rake or shovel while on a ladder because this greatly increases the risk of losing your balance.
Don’t Go On The Roof
When possible, the best way to avoid the risk of falling off the roof is to not go up on the roof at all. Use ladders to apply de-icers to the roof or other elevated surfaces, or clear the snow using snow rakes while standing on firm ground.
When it comes to roof snow removal, a big part of fall protection and safety is made so much easier by merely planning ahead. Our experts at GSS can help you evaluate your situation, implement a safety plan, and provide safety equipment to suit your specific needs. We want you and your workers to stay safe during snow removal — and always!