There are countless dangers associated with snowfall, ranging from the slippery roads that cause accidents, to the destruction of power lines, trees and buildings. One precarious area that has led to a recent OSHA advisory is the clearing of snow from rooftops. The inherent dangers in this activity are quite clear, but many are unaware of steps that can be taken to avoid injury or even death. If it needs to be done, make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions and doing the homework in advance.
Per OSHA, there is a checklist you should run through before attempting to set foot on a snow-packed roof. Consider first whether it can be removed without your workers’ climbing on top and putting themselves in danger. Also, before heavy snow fall begins to strike your particular town, have you marked off areas of hazard, like skylights, drains or vents? Then investigate what the maximum load limits are for that specific roof, and do the math with the snow, workers, and equipment factored in. After that, think about what tools and fall equipment will be needed to get it done properly and safely. In addition, think about any training that can be done before the snow ever hits, and what the workers on the ground can be aware of so they’re not struck while helping from a lower vantage point.
Can the snow be removed from the roof with ladders, rakes and drag lines, so human weight never has to enter the equation? It’s important to calculate all of this ahead of time, because reactionary decisions can be very costly when it comes to this type of removal. Ultimately, doing a run-through a month or two before snow is projected to touch down could be a fruitful practice; it may seem unnecessary to worry about it weeks in advance, but if the research has been done, the tools purchased, and the trainings attended to, you’re putting everyone involved into a much safer atmosphere.
In the end, fall protection should be clearly established from the get-go, and the due diligence work must be put in. Check roof access, equipment, understand the dangers of cold exposure, and keep hydration at the forefront of your mind. This removal can be very important in terms of saving a building from further damage. On many occasions this work is necessary, and will keep your community humming along safely. Just make sure you cover all your bases and have protection plans for your hardworking individuals.