USAF

Snow Shoveling Safety Tips

Moving snow can be strenuous, whether you use a shovel or a snow blower...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.

person shoveling snow

  • Do not shovel after eating or while smoking
  • Stretch out beforehand to warm up your muscles, and take it slow
  • Shovel only fresh, powdery snow; it's lighter
  • Push the snow rather than lifting it
  • If you do lift it, use a small shovel or only partially fill the shovel
  • Lift with your legs, not your back, keep your back straight, bending at the hips
  • Wear layers and remove them as you get warmer
  • Stay hydrated, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated while shoveling
  • Pace yourself and be sure to take frequent breaks
  • Do not work to the point of exhaustion

person using snow blower to clear a path

If using a snow blower, use the following tips to avoid a mishap:

  • Always start your snow blower outside, never in the garage, in case of fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Before it snows, clear objects from your driveway that might become projectiles, such a rocks
  • If using an electric-powered snow blower, choose a path away from the cord.
  • If the blower gets jammed, turn it off and use a shovel or rake handle to clear the jam, never your hand
  • Keep your hands away from All moving parts
  • Do not drink alcohol and use the snow blower
  • Be pro-active and wear personal protective equipment (goggles, safety glasses and gloves)
  • Refuel your snow blower when it is off and cooled down, never when it is running