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New York workplace accidents prevalent during snow removal

New York experienced an excessively cold December, and with large amounts of snow comes the dangers associated with snow removal. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reminded employers and workers of the necessary precautions to prevent workplace accidents. This is a task that can cause serious injuries or worse without the proper safeguards. Violations of safety regulations may lead to entrapment under snow that may cause suffocation, and damaged power lines could cause electrocution.

Elevated surfaces such as rooftops are particularly perilous because the additional weight of the snow, and the workers' weights may be too much for the structure to bear. For this reason, the snow load must be evaluated before workers access the roof. Appropriate snow removal techniques must be followed, such as the uniform removal across the roof area to avoid piles of snow that may cause too much weight in small areas.

When workers use drag lines or snow rakes to clear roofs from ground level, it is essential to avoid removing large amounts of snow at a time. Workers on the ground can be buried under snow if they do not remove the snow in small amounts. Each worker must be equipped with personal protective equipment such as head and eye protection along with gloves. OSHA says further hazards are posed by mechanical equipment such as snowblowers, and other typical injuries include hypothermia, frostbite, overexertion and musculoskeletal injuries.

Employees who have suffered injuries in workplace accidents during snow removal or other activities will be well advised to get the necessary medical care and report the injury to their employers as soon as possible. This can set the wheels in motion for a benefits claim with the New York workers' compensation insurance program. Experienced legal counsel is available to assist with the navigation of the claims process for coverage of medical expenses and lost wages.

Source:, "OSHA offers tips to guard against snow-removal hazards", Jeff Himler, Dec. 27, 2017

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