Workers sweep snow from road in winter, Cleaning road from snow storm

Winter Storm Petra is expected to  dump snow and ice on parts of the Plains and Midwest before moving on to the the East, creating more miserable — and potentially dangerous — commutes, according to The Weather Channel.

To keep businesses safe for employees and visitors, the U.S. Department of Labor recommends employers clear walking surfaces of snow and ice, and spread deicer, as quickly as possible after a winter storm. But while making the walkways and parking lots safe is key, so is making sure those people doing the work take the proper precautions.

When workers are shoveling snow — especially the wet, heavy variety — there is always a risk for exhaustion, dehydration, back injuries, or heart attacks.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stresses proper training to keep staff safe. Workers should warm-up and scoop small amounts of snow at a time. Where possible, staff should push the snow instead of lifting it. And if lifting is necessary, train staff to keep their back straight, lift with the legs and do not turn or twist the body.

When using a snow blower, staff should never attempt to clear a snow or ice jam by hand. To avoid accidents, turn the snow blower off and wait for all moving parts to stop. Then, use a long stick to clear the snow. Workers should also be trained to never add fuel when the equipment is running or when the engine is hot.

Once the snow is cleared, the staff should apply ice melt products where needed. It's important to avoid salt-sensitive areas or zones that are protected by local, state/provincial or federal regulations.

Be sure to include spot-treatment of problem areas — including north-facing surfaces or areas where water and ice are known to build up. Spot-treating these areas rather than "‘blanket treating" all surfaces can cut costs

Finally, make sure the facility staff is on "ice watch" — monitoring and documenting any refreeze-related risks caused by a broken downspout or clogged drain.