Safety Tips

What should you know before you start shovelling?

First of all, you should keep in mind that shovelling snow involves strenuous effort.

In general, a shovel of snow weighs 6 kg, if you lift a shovel of snow every 10 seconds, you will move a load of over 36 kg in one minute. Repeat for 15 minutes and you will have shovelled 540 kg of snow. Such effort is obviously not for everyone. This effort is hard on the heart and back.

As with any exercise, talk to your doctor. If you are physically fit, do some warm-ups before you start shovelling. Flexing and stretching exercises will loosen up the muscles and prepare them for the job ahead.

Next, check your clothing. Are you dressed appropriately? Wear several layers of warm lightweight clothing that is hinder free and comfortable to move in. The inner layer should be breathable 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. However, do not let your hat or scarf block your vision - you have to see what you are shovelling. Boots should be water-resistant and high-cut, and should provide good traction. Gloves should be light and flexible and give you a good grip.

  1. When shoveling snow, try to clear the snow before it gets packed down. Attempt to push the snow with a wide shovel or scoop shovel to reduce repetitive bending and lifting
  2. Use light weight shovel, ensuring the handle is long enough so you don’t have to stoop. The shovel will be easier to grip if it has a D handle.
  3. Keep your physical exertion to a moderate level. Push or shovel only a reasonable amount at once. If you feel you have to hold your breath when lifting, you are probably lifting too much
  4. Use safe body mechanics. For shoveling, these include:
    • a wide stance, a wide grip on the shovel, and trying to keep your back straight and upright
    • bending the knees and hips when lifting rather than rounding your back forward
    • take small steps to turn to avoid twisting your back especially when carrying loads
    • don’t try to throw snow or other material great distances. Forcefully twisting with a load greatly increases the stress on your back and shoulders
    • Alternate your hands periodically to break up the same movement.
  5. Be extremely cautious, it is very easy to slip on the snow and ice. Take small steps and walk slowly.
  6. Pace yourself, take frequent breaks, stretch and drink warm fluids.
  7. Once snow has been cleared, use a small container and sprinkle sand or other de-icing agent on the area, where appropriate.