Snow Blower Safety Tips
February 4, 2020
Every year, snow blowers are responsible for thousands of serious injuries. Although there has not been a major snowfall in the Philadelphia area quite yet this winter, meteorologists are predicting major storms are still to come. Before using a snow blower, it is important to know how to safely operate one in order to avoid traumatic, permanent or disabling injuries.
Snow blowers are popular to use for quick and easy snow removal, particularly in areas accustomed to heavy snowfall such as the Tri-State area. These machines range in size from being very small and mobile to being much larger and mounted to heavy duty, industrial vehicles. Snow blowers function by having augers (also known as “collectors”), or paddle mechanisms, that pull snow into the machine and then redirect it out through separate discharge chutes.
Despite their popularity, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warns that by design, snow blowers are actually inherently dangerous. In fact, snow blowers are one of the leading causes of traumatic hand and finger amputations in the United States. Because of how they are built, snow is prone to building up in the auger, which can lead to the machine jamming and subsequently, the engine stalling out. Many individuals believe that if a snow blower has stalled or is turned off, that it is safe to put their hands inside to clear the jam – but this is not true. Injuries happen most frequently when users attempt to clear the collector or snow blower discharge chute by hand.
To avoid serious snow blower-related injuries, some of which even prove to be fatal, it is important to be careful and cautious while using these machines. The CPSC recommends that people observe the following important safety tips:
- Never leave the machine running in an enclosed area (this can result in cases of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning),
- Always stop the engine and use a long stick (or plastic tools included by the manufacturer) to unclog any wet snow or debris from the blower’s discharge chute or auger,
- NEVER use your hands to unclog any part of a snow throwing machine,
- If you snow blower is an electric-powered one, be wary of where the power cord is during use, and:
- Only add fuel when outdoors and before powering machinery up. Never add fuel when the machine is running or the engine is hot. Store gasoline away from ignition sources and always keep the can capped in order to prevent fires from happening
It is also critical that children never operate snow-throwing machinery. When using a snow blower, children and pets should observe a safe distance. Not only do snow blowers cause permanently disabling hand and finger injuries, but they can also cause problematic muscle sprains and strains. It is easy to get overexerted while working outdoors in cold temperatures, so be sure to take frequent breaks whenever using a snow blower. It is advisable that individuals with hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, and heart disease consult directly with a doctor before using a snow blower to make sure that it is safe.
Even if you are accustomed to using a snow blower, injuries can still happen. Always take your time and be careful when using the machine, and if you do get injured, make sure to seek medical attention if it is necessary. Depending on what caused your snow blower-related injury, you may be able to file a legal claim. To learn more, contact a representative at our firm directly.
Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Representing Injured Individuals Since 1947
If you have a legal question or concern, please contact our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.