Somerville Businesses Snow Blowing Roofs to Avoid Collapse

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Photo: Shop owner at the intersection next toBroadway and McGrath Highway clears his garage roof.

By William Tauro

Local businesses are urged to shovel and snow blow their roofs to avoid a collapse situation especially on flat roofs.

In addition to cold stress, there are other winter weather related hazards that workers may be exposed to when performing tasks such as driving in the snow, removing snow from rooftops, and working near downed or damaged power lines.

Clearing Snow from Roofs and Working at Heights

Employers must evaluate snow removal tasks for hazards and plan how to do the work safely. Workers should be aware of the potential for unexpected hazards due to the weather conditions, for example, layers of ice can form as the environmental temperature drops, making surfaces even more slippery. A surface that is weighed down by snow must be inspected by a competent person to determine if it is structurally safe for workers to access it, because it may be at risk of collapsing. Snow covered rooftops can hide hazards such as skylights that workers can fall through. Electrical hazards may also exist from overhead power lines or snow removal equipment.

Employers can protect workers from these hazardous work conditions, for example, by using snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs, when and where possible. Employers should determine the right type of equipment (ladders, aerial lifts, etc.) and personal protective equipment (personal fall arrest systems, non-slip safety boots, etc.) for the job and ensure that workers are trained on how to properly use them.

For more information, see OSHA’s Hazard Alert: Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow from Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces.

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