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A long way down

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (Mar 16/05) - If your snow-covered rooftop looks to be a long way up, then it is an even longer way down should you tumble from it.

For that reason, the Workers Compensation Board reminds rooftop shovellers that wearing proper fall protection equipment is mandatory while atop a business and recommended on a home roof.

Bruce Graney, chief safety officer with WCB in Yellowknife, said a five-point harness connected to a lanyard and fastened to an anchor is required equipment for workers on rooftops more than 10 feet high.

"Annually, we try to bring this requirement to peoples' attention," Graney said.

While he has not heard of any roof collapses due to snow weight in Yellowknife, there has been a greater snow accumulation this year, which means more people have been seen with shovels in hand clearing away the heavy snow.

"And the problem also lies in having sufficient protection to get up and install an anchor so that you have something when the snow comes," Graney said.

Ideally, such an anchor system would be in place during the warm season and be ready for the snow, he added.

Darcy Hernblad, deputy fire chief of operations at the Yellowknife Fire Department, said while there have been no reports in Yellowknife of injuries due to falling under such circumstances, the danger exists because of roof slope.

It doesn't take much of an angle for a roof to be slippery if there is snow, said Hernblad.

"If people get up there and try to shovel the snow off the roof, it will only take one wrong move (and) they'll slip and come down."

Graney said should a safety officer spot someone shovelling on a business rooftop without the proper protective gear, they would be stopped until the worker's safety could be ensured.

"We have a focus on trying to prevent injury from a fall from heights."