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CONN-OSHA Reminds Employers, Homeowners of Hazards Associated With Snow Removal

For immediate release
February 4, 2011

WETHERSFIELD – In light of the recent snowstorms, the Connecticut Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (CONN-OSHA) wants to remind workers, employers and the general public of the hazards associated with snow removal, especially on roofs, and the associated recovery work.

"Cleaning up after a storm encompasses a variety of tasks, each of which can carry a variety of risks if performed incorrectly or without proper safeguards," explains CONN-OSHA Manager Kenneth Tucker. "The CONN-OSHA office is very concerned with the possibility of someone falling from a rooftop. The last thing we want is someone being seriously injured or even killed.  We want to alert everyone about what those risks are and outline the steps they can take to protect themselves."

According to Tucker, common hazards most often include:

  • Electric shock from contact with power lines or the use of ungrounded electrical equipment;

  • Falls from snow removal on roofs, falling through unguarded skylights, or while working in aerial lifts or on ladders;

  • Being struck or crushed by trees, branches or structures that collapse under the weight of accumulated snow;

  • Carbon monoxide poisoning from idling vehicles or gasoline-powered generators in inadequately ventilated areas;

  • Lacerations or amputations from unguarded or improperly operated chain saws and power tools, and improperly attempting to clear jams in snow blowers;

  • Slips or falls on icy or snow-covered walking surfaces;

  • Being struck by motor vehicles while working in roadways; and

  • Hypothermia or frostbite from exposure to cold temperatures.

Ways of best addressing these hazards, Tucker points out, include:

  • Assuming that all power lines are energized, keeping a distance and coordinating work with  utility companies;

  • Making certain that all electrically powered equipment is grounded;

  • Providing and ensuring the use of effective fall protection;

  • Properly using and maintaining ladders;

  • Using caution around surfaces weighed down by large amounts of snow;

  • Making certain all powered equipment is properly guarded and disconnected from power sources before cleaning or performing maintenance;

  • Using and wearing eye, face and body protection along with appropriate footwear;

  • Clearing walking surfaces of snow and ice, and using salt or its equivalent where appropriate;

  • Wearing reflective clothing; and

  • Using engineering controls, personal protective equipment and safe work practices to reduce the length and severity of exposure to the cold.

Media Contact: Nancy Steffens
Phone: (860) 263-6535

Fax: (860) 263-6535

200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT 06109 / Phone: 860-263-6000

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