Winter Weather Advisory: Preparing for Safe Snow Removal from Rooftops and Other Elevated Structures

Snow removal can be dangerous business, particularly when removing snow and ice from rooftops and other elevated structures. As we head into the winter season, now is a good time to review safe snow removal practices.

OSHA’s General Duty Clause imposes a duty on employers to protect workers from recognized serious hazards in the workplace, including snow removal from roof and other elevated structures. How to meet the duty of care:

Before the work begins, employers should:

  • Plan ahead for safe snow removal from roofs
  • Check the worksite for any hazards
  • Limit when and where workers will be required to go on the roof to remove snow
  • Use snow removal procedures that lower the risk of roof or structure collapse
  • Whenever possible, use engineering controls to clear ice and snow without getting on the roof (use aerial lifts and/or ladders to apply de-icing materials, use snow rakes or drag lines from ground). Engineering controls protect workers from fall hazards covered by snow and ice
  • Require all employees to follow manufacture instructions for using mechanical equipment safely

Employers must also:

  • Train workers to identify fall and electrical hazards
  • Train workers on appropriate protective equipment, fall prevention, and electrical standards (See 29 CFR 1910 Subparts D, F, I and S)
  • Provide fall protection equipment that is in good working order (See 29 CFR 1910.28, 1926.50)
  • Train workers to use ladders, aerial lifts and protective equipment per manufacture guidelines
  • Have a plan for rescuing a worker caught by a fall protection system

Before the snow arrives, plan for safety. Have a safety meeting designated to the topic of safe snow removal and provide copies of the OSHA Guide to Safe Snow Removal.

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