Look out below! Roof collapse in Colorado due to heavy snow.

As the winter months continue, we also continue our informal series on snow-related workplace hazards. Previously we’ve discussed some of the dangers that ski resort workers can face while on the slopes as well as hazards associated with snow removal. But snow-related work accidents can affect employees who are indoors as well.

In central Colorado, a building collapse shows that snow build-up could be dangerous for workers inside a building. Fortunately, no workers were actually inside the building when the roof fell and therefore no injuries were reported. But what if there had been employees still inside?

There had been a heavy snowfall in the area when the roof collapsed. It was later in the evening, which is likely why there were no people inside at the time. The collapse caused breaks and cracks in the neighboring buildings as well. Crews worked quickly to assess and minimize the damage caused by the heavy snow.

For workers, a roof collapse could mean a number of different injuries. A crush injury could cause broken bones, deep lacerations or even amputation if serious. A worker could sustain a serious head injury if concrete or bricks fall from above. There could even be a gas leak issue when a building collapses, creating serious hazards if a flame is lit nearby.

A roof collapse may seem like an unpredictable incident. How could employees know that a building is about to fall or cave in? For one, employers can make sure that employees know where exits are and how to protect themselves. But one other way to reduce the risk of a roof collapse is for employers to keep roofs free of heavy snow.

Source: The Mountain Mail, “Sayer-McKee building suffers roof collapse under weight of snow,” Danny Ramey, Feb. 4, 2014.

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