As the winter storm season approaches, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has focused on protecting workers from hazards during winter storm response and recovery operations. OSHA’s new webpage, entitled “Winter Storms,” provides employers with information on preparing for winter storms and identifying and controlling hazards associated with winter storm conditions.
A number of hazards associated with winter storms are addressed: being struck by falling objects such as icicles, tree limbs, and utility poles; driving accidents due to slippery roadways; carbon monoxide poisoning; dehydration, hypothermia and frostbite; exhaustion from strenuous activity; back injuries or heart attack while removing snow; slips and falls due to slippery walkways; electrocution from downed power lines and downed objects in contact with power lines; burns from fires caused by energized line contact or equipment failure; falls from snow removal on roofs or while working in aerial lifts or on ladders; roof collapse under weight of snow (or melting snow if drains are clogged); and lacerations or amputations from unguarded or improperly operated chain saws and power tools, and improperly attempting to clear jams in snow blowers.
OSHA recommends steps for avoiding or controlling these identified hazards. It also provides links to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the American Red Cross, the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Safety Council for additional information.
Employers should review the information provided by OSHA to ensure that they are aware of potential hazards that may affect their employees.