January 5, 2001
ASSE Warns Against Shoveling Snow from Roofs
Des Plaines, IL (SafetyAlerts) - To address the safety
risks of clearing the excessive snow and ice off of roofs American Society of Safety
Engineers (ASSE) President Samuel
Gualardo recommends leaving that job for trained professionals because of the life
threatening hazard involved from slipping off of a roof or ladder.
"We strongly discourage anyone without the
proper and necessary fall protection equipment to clear snow off of roofs. The average
home or business owner does not have the proper equipment or training," said
"However, if a person is absolutely bent on
doing something about ice accumulation," Keith Vidal, ASSE Standards Development
Committee Chair, said, "appropriate measures must be taken, such as never stepping
onto a sloped roof, or in some cases an icy flat roof, unless the person uses the
appropriate fall protection equipment, which includes a harness and lanyard."
An ongoing snow-related concern is ice dams, which
are formed when gutters are filled with ice, thus blocking melting snow and ice from
traveling through the gutters.
- When using a ladder .. make sure
it is set at the correct angle with the bottom feet of the ladder approximately one fourth
of the distance from the foot of the ladder straight up to wear it is supported by a wall
or roof edge. The bottom of the ladder must be secured in position to avoid slipping away
from the wall or building and the top of the ladder must be tied off so that the ladder
cannot fall away, fall sideways or slip away from its support.
- When climbing onto a roof using a ladder
.. make sure that the ladder extends approximately three feet over the supporting
edge, not more or less.
It is extremely important to note that even when a
second person stabilizes the ladder at the bottom ALL of the above safety measures should
be used. Of additional concern is that none of the above measures consider the actual load
strength of the roof, which must also be considered on all structures. Only a qualified
engineer should make this decision, as the structural load capacity of many roofs is being
approached with the amounts of ice and snow that are on them.
Vidal also strongly recommended against spreading
ice-melting chemicals on a roof because it can cause damage to the roof and drainage
system and is ineffective as a measure to reduce the amount of snow and ice on a roof.
"The bottom line is: people are taking a
serious risk when undertaking roof clearing activities under wet, slippery and cold
conditions," Vidal said.
"A fall from a roof can change a persons life
forever." Founded in 1911, ASSE is the oldest and largest professional occupational
safety and health organization. Its 32,000 members manage, supervise, research and consult
on safety, health and environmental issues in industry, insurance, government and
education. For more information on ASSE and this issue visit its website http://www.asse.org.
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