Safety tips to avoid work accidents in snowstorms

As the country is covered by relentless snow storms, and children are kept home from schools one snow day after another, not every North Carolina worker may have the luxury of sipping warm coffee at home in front of a fire. Many have to go into work, and their work is even more necessary because of the snowstorm;their jobs facilitate others when it is snowing, such as clearing snow from the road, removing damaged power lines or fallen trees.

Employees working at heights or removing snow from rooftops must perform this task very carefully. There is a high potential for slip and fall accidents, as layers of ice form when the temperature drops and makes the roofs slippery. In addition to this, though it looks light, layers of snow can actually be very heavy and it must first be determined if it is a structurally safe area for workers to access. Snow could also hide other hazards, such as skylights, through which workers can fall. Employers may want to try using mechanical methods of snow removal in drastic weather conditions, and where workers must be sent in, they should be given adequate security equipment such as personal fall arrest systems, non slip safety boots, aerial lifts and ladders, and training on how to use the equipment properly.

Repairing a downed line could be even more dangerous, as moisture from the snow could reduce the insulation value of protective equipment and lead to electrocution. Where cutting the power is not possible, qualified supervisors should do a hazard analysis before workers begin working and determine the best way to complete the job safely.

North Carolina workers need to complete their tasks regardless of the weather, and they should know that in case of a workplace injury sustained the during the course of their employment, they may have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim to recover compensation that can ease the financial aspect of their recovery.

Source: OSHA, Accessed Feb. 16, 2015

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