In the last few weeks, over 100 inches of snow have fallen on parts of Massachusetts. This has led to massive efforts to clear snow and ice off roofs and roads. The snow clearings have placed numerous workers and homeowners in high-risk situations.
There have been at least two workers that were involved in Canton, MA work accidents. One man fell some 40 feet through a skylight while evaluating snow removal operations. The skylight had been covered in snow when he stepped on it. The worker was later pronounced dead at a Brockton hospital.
Also injured in a Canton, MA roof fall was another worker, who was also clearing snow. In an Avon, MA roof collapse, another worker was hurt in roof fall from a skylight.
Earlier this week, our Massachusetts workers’ compensation lawyer blog reported on a teen worker who was hurt while shoveling snow off the roof of a department store. The 17-year-old also fell through a skylight and plunged almost 25 feet. The Westwood, MA worker accident took place at a clothing store.
Town employees are especially at risk of fall accidents when clearing snow from roofs. Public employees will often lack the experience needed to do such work.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration says that it has responded to seven fatal incidents where snow removal was involved. Meantime, the Massachusetts’ Department of Labor Standards has put out a bulletin to notify public employers about the safety requirements that must be met before snow clearing off roofs is allowed, including:
• If possible, use snow removal methods that don’t involve workers getting on the roof
• Provide fall protection equipment
• Guard skylights to protect workers from falls
• Make sure skylights, vents, and roof drains have been identified and marked so that workers don’t trip or fall because of them
• Keep away from electrical power lines to avoid electrocution injuries
• Make sure that the additional weight of having workers on the roof doesn’t overwhelm the structure
• Properly train workers so that they can work safely when clearing snow and ice from the roof.
As we've noted, it’s not just workers who are getting hurt while clearing snow off roofs. A Canton woman was taken to the hospital when she fell off the roof of her home. Another man in Wellesley sustained shoulder injuries after he was hit by ice and snow that fell on him while he was clearing accumulations from a trellis outside his residence.
There also have been reports of roof collapses involving snow and ice where no one was injured but there was property damage. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency said that over just two weeks there were more than 130 reports of roof collapses.
The problem is that with temperatures seldom going over the freezing point lately, snow that lands on rooftops has kept accumulating without any of it melting. This has placed a strain on the roofs of many buildings, especially nonresidential ones, such as warehouses and commercial buildings that are flat-roofed.
In Massachusetts, please contact our Boston workers’ compensation law firm if you were injured on the job.
Removing Snow from Rooftops on Municipal and State Property, Department of Labor Standards (PDF)
Avon Roof Collapse Victim Remains Unidentified, The Enterprise, February 25, 2015
2 Canton deaths reinforce risks of snow removal from roofs, The Boston Globe, February 23, 2015
More Blog Posts:
Teen Worker Falls 25 Feet While Shoveling Roof in Westwood, MA, Massachusetts Workers' Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 25, 2015
University of Massachusetts Amherst Student Sues Police for Assault, False Arrest, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2015
Vehicle-to-Vehicle Technology May Be Coming Soon According to MIT Review, Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, February 27, 2015