Removing snow from sidewalks and driveways is a necessary evil. Snow removal is a strenuous task that can result in injuries and heart attacks. Approximately 28,000 people are treated annually in hospital emergency rooms for injuries that occurred while shoveling or manually removing ice and snow, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The following strategies may reduce employee injuries during the snow removal season:
Dress for success—Wear layers of loose clothing so you can peel a layer off if you get hot. Avoid wearing wools and manmade materials that don’t allow perspiration to evaporate. Clothing made of breathable and moisture-wicking materials are better choices. You’ll also want to protect your feet by wearing waterproof boots with good traction.
Know your limitations—Shoveling is a tough job. You need to be physically fit to take it on. Consult your physician regarding your ability to handle snow removal. If you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, consider hiring someone else to remove the snow. If you are able to shovel, remember to take a few minutes to stretch before you begin.
Practice safe shoveling—Avoid lifting the snow. Instead, push it to the side to remove it from sidewalks and driveways. You’ll exert less energy and reduce the amount of stress on your body. If you must lift, take small amounts and lift with your legs.
Shovel early and often—Shoveling is not a once and done deal. To prevent snow and ice from sticking to sidewalks and drives, clear the snow every few inches instead of waiting for it to accumulate.
Read the user manual—According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 6,000 people are injured annually using snow blowers. Read the safety manual for your equipment prior to starting it so you know the safety hazards and features as well as safe maintenance procedures.