February 19, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 19, 2015 MEDIA CONTACT: Julie Rabinowitz, 207-621-5009 *Avoid injury when working in dangerous situations, take precautions to protect workers*
AUGUSTA—In light of 2015’s heavy snow accumulation and recent news stories of worker injuries related to snow buildup and removal, the Department of Labor reminds Mainers to take precautions to prevent serious injuries while removing snow from driveways and roofs.
“No one should ever be injured or killed getting snow off a roof,” stated Governor Paul R. LePage. “Do not take needless risks. Sometimes, we assume we know how to deal with the snow because it becomes routine. However, with these large accumulations, we should remind ourselves to take the right steps and not take safety for granted. Whether we are homeowners or professionals, we should make sure that everyone is safe by being aware of the risks and taking the right precautions.”
SafetyWorks!, a program of the Department of Labor, reminds employers that workers going onto a roof to remove or work in snow are required to wear the appropriate fall protection equipment. Workers who are being asked to remove snow or make repairs to snow- or ice-covered structures, for example, building maintenance workers, may not have experience or training to prepare them.
Dangers include falling off roof edges, falling through skylights and falling from ladders and aerial lifts used to access the roof. The heavy accumulation also poses the danger of workers being injured or killed by a roof collapse. Prior to going on the roof, employers should assess the structure’s ability to support not only the weight of the snow, but also that of the workers and any equipment they will be using. While on the roof, workers should always be alert to unexpected sounds or movement of surfaces that could indicate an imminent collapse. Shoveling or raking a roof can create an unbalanced load on the roof, also leading to collapse.
Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards require employers to evaluate hazards and protect workers from falls when working at heights of 4 feet or more above a lower level (1910.23) or 6 feet or more for construction work (1926.501).
Employers with questions about compliance requirements should contact SafetyWorks! at 1-877-SAFE 345 (1-877-723-3345) or http://www.safetyworksmaine.com . SafetyWorks! is not OSHA and cannot issue fines or citations to private businesses. While SafetyWorks! helps businesses of any size, priority is given to small businesses. The program trains about 8,000 people and consults at nearly 1,000 worksites in Maine each year.
SafetyWorks! provides a trained consultant with industry-specific expertise who will review the facility by appointment. The consultation may include such elements as recognizing safety hazards, sampling for air and noise exposures, recommending ways to reduce or to eliminate hazards, developing or improving a safety program, complying with federal OSHA regulations and identifying training needs.