At this time of year, the buildup of heavy snow on the roof is a common concern at both the workplace and at home. And it’s a concern best left to the professionals to handle.
The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) warns workers not to attempt clearing snow from rooftops unless they are trained professionals with the proper equipment. It’s good advice for homeowners, too.
A study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine indicated that patients were more likely to fall from a roof while shoveling snow on days with more than 12 inches (30 cm) of snow accumulation.
The bottom line: Never step on a sloped roof in wintertime, or even a flat, icy roof, without fall prevention systems, such as covers, screens, railings or guardrails. If you must work on a roof, wear your fall protection (a full-body harness, lanyard, connectors and appropriate anchorage points), wear slip-resistant footwear and never sit on, lean against or step on a skylight lens or any covering placed over a hole in a roof.
Although most people feel safer at home than they do at work, this sense of security is a false one. The reality is that workers are much more likely to be killed or injured off the job. So it’s important for employers to address safety issues that workers face at home. Include seasonal safety in your off-the-job safety program, such as winter driving, holiday safety and use of portable heaters.