US Labor Department's OSHA reminds Georgia employers of hazards
associated with ice and snow cleanup, urges proper worker safeguards
ATLANTA – In light of the recent ice and snow storms, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to remind workers, employers and the general public in Georgia of the hazards associated with ice and snow removal and recovery work.
"Cleaning up after a storm encompasses a variety of tasks, each of which can carry risks if performed incorrectly or without proper safeguards," said Cindy Coe, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "We want people to know what those risks are and what steps they can take to protect themselves against these hazards."
Common hazards can include:
-Electric shock from contact with downed power lines or the use of ungrounded electrical equipment.
-Falls from clearing ice jams in gutters, snow removal on roofs or while working in aerial lifts or on ladders.
-Being struck or crushed by trees, branches or structures that collapse under the weight of accumulated ice.
-Carbon monoxide poisoning from gasoline-powered generators in inadequately ventilated areas or idling vehicles.
-Lacerations or amputations from unguarded or improperly operated chain saws and power tools, and improperly attempting to clear jams in snow blowers.
-Slips or falls on icy or snow-covered walking surfaces.
-Being struck by motor vehicles while working in roadways.
-Hypothermia or frostbite from exposure to cold temperatures.
Means of addressing these hazards can include:
-Assuming all power lines are energized, keeping a distance and coordinating with utility companies.
-Making certain that all electrically powered equipment is grounded.
-Providing and ensuring the use of effective fall protection.
-Properly using and maintaining ladders.
-Using caution around surfaces weighed down by large amounts of ice.
-Making certain all powered equipment is properly guarded and disconnected from power sources before cleaning or performing maintenance.
-Using and wearing eye, face and body protection.
-Clearing walking surfaces of snow and ice, and using salt or its equivalent where appropriate.
-Establishing and clearly marking work zones.
-Wearing reflective clothing.
-Using engineering controls, personal protective equipment and safe work practices to reduce the length and severity of exposure to the cold.
Information on hazards and safeguards associated with cleanup and recovery activities after a storm or other major weather events is available online in English and Spanish at http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/hurricaneRecovery.html.
To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
Editor's Note: The website provided for information hazards and safeguards is labeled "Hurricane Recovery." However, the information available there is applicable to cleanup following other major weather events, as well.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.