As the cold and snowy winter doesn't want to break, most of us are all too
familiar with the arduous, strenuous job of shovelling snow. It can be hard
work and whether you shovel at work or at home, there are some tips you should
consider to protect yourself from the hazards that can go along with the task:
cold exposure; fatigue; muscular strains; back injury and more serious injury
such as a heart attack.
1. Fit for the job? If you are unaccustomed to shovelling, or if you're not in
good physical shape, shovelling snow can be a strain on your heart and back. If
you are older, overweight, or have a history of back or heart problems, you
should avoid the task altogether and delegate it to someone else, or use a
snow-blower to clear the snow.
2. Warm up. As with any exercise, consult with your doctor to ensure you are
fit enough for this physically demanding activity. Before you begin shovelling,
do warm-up stretches and flexing exercises to loosen up the muscles and prepare
them for the job ahead.
3. Lighten the load with the right shovel. A snow shovel should be lightweight,
about 1.5 kg or a little over 3 lbs, and the blade shouldn't be too large.
Otherwise your load will be too heavy, putting too much stress on your heart
and back. The handle should be long enough so that you don't have to stoop to
shovel and the grip should be made of plastic or wood - metal gets too cold. As
a general guideline, the shovel (blade plus handle) should be elbow height when
4. Bundle up. Wear several layers of warm lightweight clothing that is easy and
comfortable to move in. The inner layer should be fishnet or thermal underwear
that allows perspiration to escape from the skin surface. Make sure your head
(especially your ears), feet and hands are well covered. Your winter boots
should be warm, water-resistant and high-cut, and provide good traction. Gloves
should be light and flexible and give you a good grip. If it is really cold,
wear something over your mouth. And do not shovel at all if the temperature
drops below -40°C, or below -25° to -30°C when it is windy.
5. Pace - don't race. Shovelling snow in heavy-duty clothing can be as
strenuous as weightlifting. You may want to get the job over with as fast as
you can, but it is better to keep moving and work at a steady pace. A good
recommended rate for continuous shovelling is usually considered to be around
15 scoops per minute. Shovelling is going to make you sweat and, if you stop,
you could get a chill. The trick is to shovel efficiently without becoming
6. Push - don't lift. Push the snow rather than lift it. If you must throw it,
take only as much snow as you can easily lift. And remember, the wetter the
snow, the heavier it is.
7. Face - don't twist. Turn your feet to the direction you're throwing - don't
twist at the waist. Do not throw the snow over your shoulder or to the side.
8. Get the scoop. Consider using a snow scoop to push the snow instead of
lifting. The scoop helps you to move snow with less effort by riding up over
the snow to allow you to move it without ever having to lift it.
9. Rest and recover. Take frequent breaks and drink some warm non-alcoholic
fluids. In extreme conditions, such as very cold and windy weather, 15 minutes
of shovelling should be followed by 15 minutes of rest.
AplusA-online.de - Source: Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety