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.