Every winter, several work accidents occur when removing snow from roofs, whether by falling from heights, being buried, suffering from discomforts, etc. Whatever the type of roof slope (a slanted or flat roof), here are the best practices to perform removal while minimizing risks of accidents.
Don’t let snow accumulate
One of the best practices to minimize the risks of an accident during roof snow removal is to do it on a regular basis. Think about it; a rooftop regularly cleared of snow means less snow to shovel each time, thus reducing the physical and cardiovascular effort. The time passed on the roof will also be shortened, consequently reducing accident risks. At the maximum of the precipitation, the accumulation of snow on your roof should not exceed 70 cm, and 15 centimeters could be left.
Also, you should assess the risks before climbing on the roof. The weight of the snow combined with the one of the equipment and the personnel is to be taken into account to determine if the roof threatens to collapse. In doubt, call a structural engineer.
Write or draw a snow action plan
Have a plan before removing snow from a rooftop. Therefore, you will know all the risks linked to your roof as well as the measures to be taken in order to minimize them. All snow action plans should include:
- Snow dumping zone (on the roof and on the ground);
- Buffer zone (a perimeter of at least 2 meters from the parapets);
- Protection zone from the access trap;
- The safe distance from power lines.
It is essential that the dumping zone includes a protected area on the ground, which will be prohibited from crossing or accessing during snow removable to avoid burying any passersby.
Use the right tools
To remove snow from a flat roof, it is recommended to use a snow pusher instead of a shovel that lifts snow, thus reducing the physical effort required to accomplish the task.
If the state of the grounds allows it, it is even safer to use a lifting device designed to hoist people in order to reach the roof.
If the roof is at an angle, making snow removal from the ground unmanageable, and the use of a lifting device is impossible due to the state of the ground, snow removal should be done from the roof while making sure to use personal protective equipment designed for fall arrest, which is a harness fixed to an anchor with a rope and rope grab.
From the ground, use a rake with a telescopic handle to start removing snow from the lower part of the roof instead of the top.
Listen to your body
The efforts required to remove snow from a roof are important. They put additional stress on the heart and back resulting in most injuries. Push the snow instead of lifting it. Your back and heart will thank you for it.
Very low temperatures and the wind chill index quickly increase the risks of frostbite. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the temperatures and choose the appropriate protective equipment (foot, hands and body).
For these reasons, we recommend not carrying out this task alone, but instead to be at least two people so that in case of discomfort or injury, the other will be able to assist.
Call for professional help
The experts of SPI Health and Safety are able to assess your risks and needs to ensure a safe snow removal from your roof. Whether for personal protection equipment, guardrails or delimitation lines on the roof, don’t hesitate to contact our team.