This winter has already brought more inclement weather than the country has seen in decades. For those living in the Midwest and on the East coast, heavy snowfalls have brought cities to a standstill. New York is still digging itself out of last week's blizzard, and citizens must now deal with interrupted trash service as well as snow removal.
Even with all the inconveniences of a blizzard, most people don't realize how dangerous snow can actually be - especially for those who have to remove it. That's why Occupational Safety and Health Administration decided to warn workers of the potential on-the-job injuries associated with snow removal.
OSHA says some of the biggest hazards come from snow's effects on city infrastructures. Snow removal workers need to watch out for downed power lines, damaged trees, and objects and snow which might fall from damaged roofs. Protective headgear is mandatory and workers should avoid walking under anything which looks like it could collapse. They also need to assume that any downed power line is still energized.
Since roads and surfaces are slippery, workers are in danger of slip and fall accidents and could possibly be hit by skidding vehicles. They can protect themselves by wearing reflective clothing for better visibility and by wearing boots with deep treads to avoid slips. Salt should be applied to every exterior walking surface.
Finally, the cold weather itself is a danger. Workers need to dress for the cold weather to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.
When major storms occur the whole city is affected. Citizens who are usually calm may begin to panic and make unsafe choices. That's why the first responders in weather emergencies need to think ahead and play it smart in order to stay safe. The whole city is depending on them.
Source: Injury Board Blog Network, "OSHA Warns New York Employers and Workers of Hazards of Snow Cleanup," Paul Napoli, 2 January 2011