Our Boston personal injury lawyers often report about the dangers of roofing accidents for employees working in the construction industry. As Massachusetts continues to get buried by snow and ice storms this winter, we are reminded that we are all potential victims of roofing accidents caused by the weather.
In Part 1 of our two-part series about “Safety tips used to minimize the dangers of harsh winters” we are focusing on roof collapses and loss of power. These types of accidents can lead to cases of premise liability in Massachusetts and should be taken seriously by tenants, employees, and customers.
The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security in Massachusetts offers the following winter storm tips to avoid collapse and potential roofing accidents:
-Snow and ice can be heavy and should be removed from roofs and awnings whenever possible.
-Flat roofs can trap vast amounts of snow for long periods of time. Build-up of roof ice dams can lead to interior damage. If snow and ice can be reached or broken up from the ground it is recommended to use a snow rake that can be found at most hardware stores.
-Flat roofs should only be shoveled clear if the roof is safe to stand on. Drainage systems on flat roofs should be kept clear so that when melting begins water accumulation does not become an issue causing structural damage.
-Ladder rungs tend to ice up and the collection of snow and ice on the bottoms of your boots can be an added danger. Eye goggles and protective headgear should be worn if climbing a ladder is the only option for snow removal.
-Overhanging icicles along walkways should be removed carefully. Icicles are sharp and can cause injury either by falling on someone or by dripping water on the sidewalk.
Loss of power is another danger that harsh winter weather can bring to tenants, employees, and customers. The EOPSS offers these winter storm tips to prevent loss of power:
-Keep an Emergency Supply kit available in case of extensive power outage. Items can include: flashlight, batteries, portable radio, first aid kit, prescription drugs, and bottled water.
-Lighting candles can be dangerous and should be avoided.
-Snow, sleet, and freezing rain when accumulated on trees and power wires can be heavy and is likely to cause power outages. You should call the electric company or Mass 2-1-1 if you experience ice build-up or power loss that could lead to a dangerous situation.
-Check your batteries in your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly.
-Space heaters should only be used if they have at least a 3-foot circumference of space around them. Never leave them running if you go to sleep or leave the room as they could catch fire to something in the room.
-Only follow manufacturer’s instructions when using emergency generators. Failure to install and ground the generator properly could hold you liable for damage or injury to other property or people.
-Maintain outside fuel and exhaust vents by keeping snow and ice removed from the openings.
-Keep a light water drip from your faucet to prevent pipes from freezing.
-Following a storm, be extra cautious of downed or hanging wires as they could be live and result in being electrocuted if touched. Snow can bury these wires at times so you should be aware of where you are stepping at all times.