9 Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

Are you prepared for snow shoveling season? In the winter, snow and cold are inevitable. With that comes shoveling snow, salting sidewalks, clearing parking lots, and injuries related to these activities. Did you know that annually there are more than 11,500 people that suffer injuries requiring treatment in an emergency room, doctor’s offices, and clinics due to shoveling snow? Research shows that many of these injuries could be prevented if the person doing the shoveling did so in a safe manner.

To help protect you and your employees this winter, here are a few snow shoveling safety tips we recommend when performing outside winter maintenance:

  1. Warm up. Prepare your body for the work about to be performed by  stretching your arms, legs, and back before going outside to shovel. After all, shoveling snow can burn some serious calories and is demanding on the body.
  2.  Identify icy spots. Locate icy areas and treat them with salt or de-icer immediately. These slippery areas may easily be hidden by fresh snow.
  3. Shovel zone by zone. Break up the areas needing to be shoveled into multiple zones. Shovel one zone at a time, making sure to take multiple breaks while shoveling a zone and before moving to the next zone.
  4. Utilize your legs to push the snow. Your legs are the largest and strongest muscle in your body; use them to your advantage.
  5. Shovel small amounts of snow at a time. Do not fill up the entire shovel with snow and then lift it, especially when the snow is wet. This can lead to lower back injuries.  Instead, use a smaller shovel or reduce the amount of snow you pick up when snow is heavier.
  6. Lift with your legs, not your back. Avoid twisting your body and tossing the snow which can lead to back injuries. Keep your arms close to your body for stability.
  7. Do not toss or throw snow. Scoop up the snow with the shovel and carry it to where you want the snow to be.  Abruptly twisting to toss snow increases your chance of injury and energy exertion.
  8. Drink plenty of water. Shoveling snow is a workout, especially in very cold temperatures. Make sure to stay well hydrated when performing physically demanding activities like shoveling snow.
  9. Wear appropriate clothing. Appropriate clothing for cold temperatures includes: winter hat, gloves, slip-resistant footwear, and multiple layers. Footwear is very important. Ensure employees tasked with snow removal activities have or are provided proper footwear to help avoid a slip and fall incident, as this is a leading cause of employee injury during snow removal activities.

Following these snow shoveling safety tips will help you avoid a costly and painful injury this winter. Watch our video on outdoor slip and fall prevention for additional safety tips to safeguard your business, employees, and customers or contact your local Society agent with questions.

Author

Brian obtained his bachelors degree in Occupational & Environmental Safety and Health from UW Whitewater. He has been in risk control for six years. Brian is also a lieutenant on his local fire department, where he has been an active member for over 10 years. He currently holds many certifications in firefighting, fire prevention and emergency management.

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