Record snow increases risk of workplace injury in Massachusetts

Many Massachusetts residents are ready for spring to finally arrive. This winter has been a rough one, with one 30-day period seeing more than 100 inches of snowfall. Heavy snow has led to dangerous conditions for Massachusetts residents, and a number of hazards for workers in a wide range of fields. As the snowfall levels rise, so does the risk of workplace injury.

One of the most dangerous aspects of heavy accumulation of snow is the fact that many workers are put into positions in which they are expected to address snow accumulation without the proper skills, training or equipment. For example, heavy snowfalls can cause roofs to collapse under the weight of the snow. Workers are often asked to clear the roofs of their places of employment when snow builds up, but few are adequately trained to do so. At least two workers died while attempting to clear snow off of roofs in February, and two others required hospitalization after falling while trying to complete the same task. Another snow-related death came when a Whole Foods worker was killed by a snow plow that was working to clear the store's parking lot.

OSHA has issued special guidelines for employers who are considering sending workers up to clear snow from rooftops. Among these guidelines are providing special protective gear to prevent falls and guarding skylights to prevent workers from falling through them. In addition, it is imperative that workers are trained on the hazards related to snow and on how to properly use snow-related safety equipment.

For Massachusetts families who have lost loved ones due to a snow-related workplace injury, moving forward can be a challenge. In addition to moving through the grieving process, families often experience financial turmoil after the losses of loved ones. Workers' compensation is there to assist families in handling the financial aspects of their losses and can go a long way toward providing a level of stability in what is otherwise a very tumultuous time.

Source: ehstoday.com, "Record Snow-Related Worker Deaths and Injuries Prompt Warnings in Massachusetts", Sandy Smith, Feb. 25, 2015

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