How To Shovel Snow without Breaking Your Back or Having a Heart Attack

Removing snow without hurting yourself: if you are out of shape or have other problems, hire someone to do the job.

Snow may be pretty when it is falling, but it is a problem to clean up after it stops. If you are not in shape to handle the task of snow shoveling, hire someone else who is in shape or has the equipment to get the job done quickly. If you can afford it, hire a local contractor to plow the area that needs to be cleared, that way you will be left with the front steps and maybe a walkway to handle. If you cannot afford the price of a contractor, consider buying a snow blower, or perhaps buying a snow blower with one or two of your neighbors. You must, however, agree beforehand, who gets to use the snow blower first. How repairs will be handled and what happens if the snow blower poops out in the middle of the operation.

If you must shovel snow yourself, here are key tips from OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration] to help you through the effort.

1–Avoid cold stress by giving yourself “warm breaks” from the cold job of snow shoveling. Just being out in the cold can stress your body and your heart, so protect yourself.

2–In addition to “warm breaks,” hydrate yourself, rest to avoid exhaustion and shovel properly to avoid back injuries [avoid the job altogether if you are not in shape to do the work!]. If you are a couch potato who has not exercised since last winter when it snowed, avoid the job altogether.

3–Avoid bending when you shovel snow. If you are tall, get a snow shovel with a long handle so that you can stand straight; if you are shorter, get a shorter handle so that you can stand straight. Plan the purchase of the snow shovel well in advance of the snow storm

4–Get a snow shovel that you can handle. Plastic snow shovels are lighter weight than metal snow shovels and thus it is easier to remove the snow, but they do not last as long as metal snow shovels.

5–Push the snow like a snow plow rather than constantly “shoveling” the snow and throwing it to the side.

6–Plan your shoveling strategically: you only want to touch the snow once so that when you push it to an area, make sure you do not have to move it again.

7–Start in the middle of your driveway, moving straight down it for several feet, then remove the snow on either side of that clear section by “snow plowing” it to the edge of the driveway.

8–If you must pick up the snow, do it in a proper fashion or you could severely injure your back: with back straight, bend at the knees and then straighten up to lift the snow. Lift with your legs, not your back.

9–Don’t shovel with your body at an angle or you will injure yourself. Shovel with your body straight using the above mentioned snow plow technique.

10–Clear the snow in stages, rather than digging right now to the surface of the driveway. It takes longer but will cause less wear and tear on your body.



OSHA on Winter Weather Hazards

Removing Snow from Rooftops


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