Silvi, Fedele & Honschke Attorneys at Law, L.L.C.
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Snow removal safety tips for workers

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging workers in New Jersey and other states to take precautions when removing snow this winter. According to the agency, snow removal has led to several workplace injuries and deaths in recent years.

OSHA reports that workers removing snow from elevated surfaces like rooftops are at most risk for injury. Over the last decade, 16 workers have been killed or seriously injured under such conditions. Worse, all the accidents were preventable. To reduce the risk of fall injuries, the agency recommends that workers use drag lines or snow rakes to remove snow from elevated surfaces. They should also wear protective gear and remove snow in small batches. OSHA urges employers and workers to evaluate the amount of snow load on a roof to ensure it can also support the weight of workers and equipment. Workers should remove the snow in a uniform pattern to avoid putting too much load in one area of the roof.

In addition to falling hazards, other common snow removal dangers include amputations and eye injuries from snowblowers, being struck by a vehicle, entrapment under snow, electrocution, frostbite and overexertion injuries. To avoid these hazards, OSHA recommends that workers use a smaller shovel, stay at least 10 feet away from power lines, take frequent breaks and drink non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages.

Workers who are injured while removing snow may be eligible to file for workers' compensation benefits, which provide medical coverage and income replacement payments while a worker recovers. Some workers find it helpful to consult with an attorney before filing their claim to ensure all required documentation is included.

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