Shoveling a roof???

By Cari Gray, CSP, BWC Safety Consultant Specialist

That’s right, you read the title correctly – so it’s cold and wintery and the dreaded four-letter word, S-N-O-W, just hit most of Ohio hard.

So, what’s a person to do when the snow and ice keep coming and coming, and the precipitation is piling up on your roof? Well, I will tell you what you don’t do … don’t go up there. You know snow and ice is slippery – I know you know that – so stay off the roof.

I wish I did not have to discuss this one, but look on the internet yourself – all you need to do is a quick search, and you will see many incidents and injuries associated with … shoveling a roof … yep … I said it …

So, what can you do? The answer is to start before the weather turns bad. Be sure your roof and gutters are in good shape. Have a roofing contractor do an inspection of your roof if you have concerns and deal with issues immediately – don’t wait for bad weather.

If the snow and ice build up too much (most recommendations are more than 6-12 inches), consider investing in a roof rake (with rollers or bumpers so you don’t scrape the shingles) and a long extension handle and do the job from the ground.

But, when wielding a long metal pole and swinging it around – keep in mind the other “shocking” safety hazard of overhead power lines. Also, be careful of pulling a big heavy chunk of snow or ice onto your head (or any part of your body). I assume I don’t need to explain that one.

If doing it yourself isn’t possible, hire a professional to help. But use caution, some contractors are better than others (read this blog about contractors – safe at work / safe at home).

If you are a “professional” and you are hired to remove snow from your clients’ roof, be sure of a few things. One, you have a program for fall protection and fall prevention. Also, have the proper training for this hazardous task. Try to remove the snow while staying on the ground as detailed above. If that isn’t possible, make sure you are familiar with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s regulations for working at heights.

Finally, make sure you have proper protective equipment, such as warm layers of clothing, gloves and slip resistant boots or cleats.

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