The Occupational Health and Safety Branch of Service NL would like to remind employers, workers and the general public to keep safety in mind when removing snow and ice from roofs, walkways, driveways and parking lots. It is also important to ensure entrances and exits are kept free of snow to allow free access and egress especially in case of an emergency.
The removal of snow and ice build up on a roof is an effective means to prevent overloading of structures which may cause damage. Occupational Health and Safety legislation requires employers to ensure that workers are protected from falling when undertaking such work. This may be accomplished through the use of fall protection systems which may include fall arrest or travel restraint systems, guardrails and barricades, or other effective measures. Appropriate fall protection is required for work on all types of roofs, including flat roof structures.
Care should also be taken when working from a portable ladder to remove ice and snow or to conduct repairs. When working with ladders, the following points must be considered:
- always wear slip-resistant footwear
- ensure ladder rungs are free of oil, grease and ice
- always go up and down facing the ladder, holding on with both hands
- while working from a ladder, always hold on with one hand at all times
- never use a metal ladder when working around electricity
- a ladder should extend at least three feet above the roof or other support
- tie down the ladder as close to the support point as possible
- ensure the ladder has a non-slip type base
- never work from the top two rungs of a ladder
- do not overreach; the body trunk should never extend past the side of a ladder
- the slope of the ladder, from vertical, is approximately 4:1
Mobile equipment used for snow clearing should be inspected prior to use to ensure proper functioning of safety devices. Operators are reminded to use seat belts while operating such equipment. Care must be taken when plowing snow as obstructions can be camouflaged by the snow.
Ensure that augers are completely de-energized and locked out to prevent accidental start up prior to attempting to remove foreign materials caught in the equipment. Rocks, ice chunks and other objects can be picked up and thrown by snow blowers so it is important to always know what is beyond the chute while blowing snow.
Employers, workers and the general public are reminded that shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity. It requires proper technique to prevent soft tissue injuries. Depending on physical fitness, frequent rest periods may be required to prevent over exertion. Proper clothing, especially for the head, hands and feet, is required to protect from hypothermia. Anyone shoveling near a traffic area should be wearing high visibility apparel.
For further information on health and safety legislation contact any of the Occupational Health and Safety Branch Locations.