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U.S. Department of Labor Urges Employees and Employers Engaged In Snow Removal and Cleanup to Be Aware of Potential Hazards

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With winter  upon us and frigid temperatures the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is urging all those involved in snow removal and cleanup to take precautions and focus on safety.

Workers performing snow removal operations may be exposed to serious hazards, including slips and falls while walking on snow and ice. Other storm recovery work hazards include being struck by vehicles, carbon monoxide poisoning from misuse of generators, hypothermia, and being injured by powered equipment.

Those working outdoors may also be at risk of cold stress, including first responders who are on duty for long periods of time. Anyone working outside for prolonged periods may experience cold stress with mild symptoms, such as shivering while remaining alert. Moderate to severe symptoms include when the shivering stops, confusion, slurred speech, heart rate/breathing slowness, and loss of consciousness. When the body is unable to warm itself, serious cold-related injuries may occur, such as frostbite.

A full list of winter storm hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/index.html

Cold Stress: 

Anyone working in a cold environment may be at risk of cold stress. Some workers may be required to work outdoors in cold environments and for extended periods, for example, snow cleanup crews, sanitation workers, police officers and emergency response and recovery personnel, like firefighters, and emergency medical technicians. Cold stress can be encountered in these types of work environment. The following frequently asked questions will help workers understand what cold stress is, how it may affect their health and safety, and how it can be prevented. To read more about cold stress and what is watch out for go to https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/emergencypreparedness/guides/cold.html

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