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Safety and Savings Tips for November 2012 From All Safety Products, Inc.

Falls and Other Hazards to Workers Removing Snow from Rooftops and Other Elevated Surfaces

Every year, workers are killed or seriously injured while performing snow or ice removal from rooftops and other building structures, such as decks. OSHA has investigated 16 such serious injuries or fatalities in the past 10 years - all of which could have been prevented.

Snow removal is performed for a number of reasons, such as to prevent overloading and collapse, or for construction or repair of decking or roofs. Often workers climb directly onto the roofs or structures and use equipment such as shovels, snow rakes, snow blowers, ladders, etc. Other times these operations may be performed from the ground level using snow rakes. Aerial lifts are sometimes used to access roofs and apply de-icing materials. Snow removal operations are often performed under extreme weather conditions (e.g., cold, high winds, icy surfaces). Workers who perform these activities (for example, building maintenance workers) may have little experience or training on the hazards of such operations or work.

Workers performing snow removal operations are exposed to many serious hazards. Based on the findings of OSHA investigations, falls cause the most worker fatalities and injuries during rooftop snow removal. Workers may fall off roof edges, through skylights, and from ladders and aerial lifts. Workers may also be injured or killed by a roof collapse.

Examples of incidents investigated by OSHA include:

A worker was removing snow from a roof, when he lost his balance and slid off the roof. He fell and struck his head on construction materials that were being stored below the roof, and sustained a fatal head injury.

A worker was laying grid lines and shoveling snow on a second floor deck. An elevator shaft opening was covered with a plastic tarp with temporary guardrails installed around a portion of the shaft opening. The worker, who was not wearing any fall protection, fell 30 feet through the unguarded portion of the elevator shaft opening and died.

Four workers were building a second-floor room addition. One of the workers was standing on a 12-foot aluminum ladder attempting to clean  snow from a low-slope roof, 10 feet above ground. The feet of the ladder slid, the worker fell, struck his head on the ladder and then on the concrete driveway. He died several days later.

A worker was shoveling snow from the roof of a residential construction site. He fell from a height of more than 11 feet and was fatally impaled by a scaffold upright in the course of his fall.

Workers removing snow face other significant hazards in addition to falls from roofs, including:
Amputations, eye injuries, and other injuries associated with the use of snowblowers and other mechanized equipment.

Bloodborne Pathogens and Needlestick Prevention

What are bloodborne pathogens?

Bloodborne pathogens are infectious microorganisms in human blood that can cause disease in humans. These pathogens include, but are not limited to, hepatitis B (HBV), hepatitis C (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Needlesticks and other sharps-related injuries may expose workers to bloodborne pathogens. Workers in many occupations, including first aid team members, housekeeping personnel in some industries, nurses and other healthcare personnel may be at risk of exposure to bloodborne pathogens.

What can be done to control exposure to bloodborne pathogens?

In order to reduce or eliminate the hazards of occupational exposure to bloodborne pathogens, an employer must implement an exposure control plan for the worksite with details on employee protection measures. The plan must also describe how an employer will use a combination of engineering and work practice controls, ensure the use of personal protective clothing and equipment, provide training , medical surveillance, hepatitis B vaccinations, and signs and labels, among other provisions. Engineering controls are the primary means of eliminating or minimizing employee exposure and include the use of safer medical devices, such as needleless devices, shielded needle devices, and plastic capillary tubes.

For additional information, please see

Healthcare Wide Hazards and Infection

Exposure of employees to community and nosocomial infections, e.g., Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) . Nosocomial infections are infections that occur from exposure to infectious organisms found in facilities such as hospitals. Health care workers are exposed to these organisms and can then become infected and/or become carriers and spread the infection to other staff and patients.

Possible Solutions

Follow the Bloodborne Pathogens Standard if exposure to blood or OPIM is anticipated including universal precautions.

Use appropriate hand washing.

According to the CDC appropriate hand washing results in a reduced incidence of both nosocomial and community infections. Guidelines from national and international infection prevention and control organizations have repeatedly acknowledged that hand washing is the single most important procedure for preventing infections. Despite this, compliance with hand washing by health care providers is poor.

Hand washing with plain soap (detergents) is effective in removing most transient microbial flora. The components of good hand washing include using an adequate amount of soap, rubbing the hands together to create some friction, and rinsing under running water. The mechanical action of washing and drying removes most of the transient bacteria present.

Washing hands as promptly and thoroughly as possible between patient contacts and after contact with blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, and equipment or articles contaminated by them is an important component of infection control and isolation precautions.

To help protect exposure to infectious materials, wash your hands:

Wear gloves: In addition to hand washing, gloves play an important role in reducing the risks of transmission of microorganisms.  Gloves are worn for three important reasons in hospitals.

First, gloves are worn to provide a protective barrier and to prevent gross contamination of the hands when touching blood, body fluids, secretions, excretions, mucous membranes, and non-intact skin; as mandated by the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogens Standard 1910.1030.

Second, gloves are worn to reduce the likelihood that microorganisms present on the hands of personnel will be transmitted to patients during invasive or other patient-care procedures that involve touching a patient's mucous membranes and non-intact skin.

Third, gloves are worn to reduce the likelihood that hands of personnel contaminated with microorganisms from a patient or object can transmit these microorganisms to another patient. In this situation, gloves must be changed between patient contacts and hands washed after gloves are removed.

Wearing gloves does not replace the need for hand washing, because gloves may have small, in-apparent defects or may be torn during use, and hands can become contaminated during removal of gloves. Failure to change gloves between patient contacts is an infection control hazard.

Hand washing according to the Bloodborne Pathogen Standard:

Employers must ensure that employees wash hands and any other skin with soap and water or flush mucous membranes with water as soon as feasible after contact with blood or other potentially infectious materials (OPIM) [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(vi)] .

Employers must provide readily accessible hand washing facilities, [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(iii)] and ensure that employees wash their hands immediately or as soon as feasible after removal of gloves [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(v)] .

When provision of hand washing facilities is not feasible, the employer shall provide either an appropriate antiseptic hand cleanser in conjunction with clean cloth/paper towels or antiseptic towelettes. When antiseptic hand cleansers or towelettes are used, hands shall be washed with soap and running water as soon as feasible [29 CFR 1910.1030(d)(2)(iv)] .

Be sure to visit our handwash sinks page,

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