"The seasonal chore of snow shoveling combines heavy lifting and cold weather, resulting in possible injuries to the back and shoulder muscles if shovelers do not take the proper precautions. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) makes several recommendations to help you stay safe while clearing snow so you can still have some winter fun.
According to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, more than 118,000 were treated for injuries sustained while shoveling or manually removing snow in 2007. In that same year, 15,000 were injured using snowblowers – three times as many snowblower injuries than in 2006. Types of injuries can include sprains and strains, particularly in the back and shoulders, as well as lacerations and finger amputations.
“People tend to think of snow removal as just another household task, but it really involves a lot of bending and heavy lifting, particularly in wet snow” says Robert Dunbar, M.D., spokesperson for the AAOS and member of the Academy’s Leadership Fellows Program “It may be especially dangerous for people who do not regularly exercise, as their bodies, specifically backs, shoulder and arm muscles may not be prepared for that level of activity.”
AAOS offers the following tips to prevent injuries while shoveling and using a snowblower:
* Check with your doctor. Because this activity places high stress on the heart, speak with your physician first. If you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, consider hiring someone to remove the snow.
* Dress appropriately. Light, layered, water-repellent clothing provides both ventilation and insulation. It is also important to wear the appropriate head coverings, as well as mittens or gloves and thick, warm socks. Take a break if you feel yourself getting too hot or too cold.
* See what you are shoveling/snow blowing. Make sure that your hat or scarf does not block your vision. Watch for ice patches and uneven surfaces. Avoid falls by wearing shoes or boots that have slip-resistant soles.
* Clear snow early and often. Begin when a light covering of snow is on the ground to avoid trying to clear packed, heavy snow." (Continued via EHS Today, Laura Walter) [Ergonomics Resources]