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Clearing heavy snow from rooftops


Heavy snow on rooftops can pose a risk for both the building itself and people standing beneath it
Heavy snow on rooftops can pose a risk for both the building itself and people standing beneath it

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

January 30, 2012 — Heavy snow on rooftops can pose safety hazards, but officials suggest knowing the risks before clearing the top of a building.

Safety officials recommend using safety harnesses when clearing snow
Safety officials recommend using safety harnesses when clearing snow

As snow begins to pile up across the country, heavy accumulation can pose a risk for some buildings and residential properties.

Officials say the pressure of the snow can be too much for certain buildings to handle. And while clearing heavy snow from rooftops is essential, safety officials recommend knowing the risks first.

“If the employer wanted someone to go on a roof to do a particular activity, they'd have to assess what types of hazards there are up there,” says Dhananjai Borwankar, a Technical Specialist at the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety.

He says slips, trips and falls are common hazards, “so individuals who are performing the activity of snow shovelling would have to be trained.”

Borwankar adds that training would include things like how to access the roof and use any equipment in a safe manner.

“In some cases, roofs need to have proper guard rails and if that's not possible something like a travel restraint system would be required.”

Heavy snow piles on this roof in Alberta
Heavy snow piles on this roof in Alberta

Roof snow removal in residential areas can also be extremely dangerous, especially without any sort of training.

“Most individuals in general don't have specific training on how to access their roof, how to utilize ladders properly or even knowing how to prevent a fall from actually happening...So they need to learn how to use equipment that would prevent them from falling.”

Borwankar suggests using some sort of harness system that is certified as well.

“And if you don't have the training, find a professional snow removal company and make sure they have liability insurance.”

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