WASHINGTON — Every winter, shovelers young and old strain their back trying to clear a path. Many of them get hurt when they twist their back with a large load of snow in their shovel.
Let’s see if we can’t fix that and save everybody some injuries, assuming the significant storm expected late Monday night matriculates.
The following tips from OSHA.gov suggest shovelers lift with their legs, not their back, and warm up or stretch before heading out to shovel.
“Shoveling snow can be a strenuous activity, particularly because cold weather can be tasking on the body. There is a potential for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks. During snow removal in addition to following the tips for avoiding cold stress, such as taking frequent breaks in warm areas, there are other precautions workers can take to avoid injuries.
Workers should warm-up before the activity, scoop small amounts of snow at a time and where possible, push the snow instead of lifting it. The use of proper lifting technique is necessary to avoid back and other injuries when shoveling snow: keep the back straight, lift with the legs and do not turn or twist the body.”
The National Safety Council has tips for safe shoveling as well, noting 18 people died from shoveling related incidents in Chicago in 2015. Among their tips: Push the snow out of the way instead of lifting it off the ground, don’t shovel immediately after eating and don’t overload the shovel.
The video below demonstrates proper shoveling technique, which includes using an ergonomic shovel. Of course, if you don’t have an ergonomic shovel already, it’s probably too late to find one for this particular storm.
OSHA also offers tips for removing snow from roofs, such as using a ladder and snow rake instead of climbing on the roof. With roughly two feet of total snow in predictions, it’s important to keep extra weight off roofs, especially when the heavier snow begins to fall.
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