Expert Tips on Getting Ready for Snow Removal
Winter 2015–2016 is coming up fast. Contracting companies should anticipate it by having a comprehensive snow removal plan for any new construction sites or any outdoor work in general. Construction work cannot safely continue as long as there is ice and snow covering up areas where projects are underway.
Unfortunately, the removal of snow and ice by untrained personnel and/or those without the needed safety equipment has led to many tragic work site deaths in recent years, most of which were 100 percent preventable. Ensure that your employees have the proper equipment and training to perform snow removal themselves, or evaluate an outside snow removal contractor company to safely prepare your site for work every day.
Here are some guidelines you can follow for getting ready for snow removal in 2015–2016 while keeping your workers safe this winter:
Snow Removal and Contingency Planning Team
Businesses function as a team of different decision-makers and workers. Team members from nearly every level of the organization should have input on topics like forming adverse weather contingency plans.
Bring in your key managers and decision-makers as well as representatives from areas like engineering, workplace safety and site foremen. Together, they can help decide upon committee members for who should be in charge of developing a comprehensive snow removal and adverse weather plan.
In this plan, you should account for:
- Defining what weather events and site conditions will qualify for snow removal
- Determining the full extent of removal needed for work to continue effectively and safely
- Creating contingency policies, such as for when snow removal cannot continue due to continued snowfall
- Training employees on how to safely work when snow and ice may be present
- Forming a plan for purchasing snow removal equipment and training workers on how to effectively and safely use it, OR
- Deciding upon a reliable snow removal contracting company who can satisfy your business’s unique needs
Safe Practices for Snow Removal
OSHA recommends many strategies to reduce the risks of serious injury or death during the process of snow removal.
- Avoid going on roofs or elevated structures to remove snow when possible; use devices like snow rakes instead
- Evaluate the load-bearing capacity of structures like roofs and devices like aerial lifts to avoid collapses, tip overs and other incidents
- Never use a tool like a snow shovel or snow rake while standing on a ladder; doing so greatly increases the risk of the worker losing their balance and falling
- Use fall protection equipment such as safety harnesses when applicable
- Clearly mark all trip hazards on structures in the event they become covered in snow; create barriers around areas such as open shafts and skylights on roofs; inspect snow-covered surfaces for these markings and barriers as the first step of snow removal
- Be wary of falling snow injuring or trapping those below; provide them with protective eye and head equipment as well as a safe buffer distance
Snow Plow Insurance
If you intend to buy your own equipment, snow plow insurance is recommended and may even be required depending on the state you are operating in. Also ensure that your commercial vehicle insurance includes benefits for skids, accidents and other problems that can result from trying to operate in the snow.