Winter Weather Hazards: Injuries and Fatalities Associated with Snow Removal
Haney, Christa Robyn
CommitteeFuhrmann, Christopher M.
Brown, Michael E.
Sheridan, Scott C.
An analysis of snow removal injury data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) revealed a persistent gender gap in injuries and deaths during snow clearing activities. In general, men, those who identified as White and those aged 60-79 represented the vast majority of injuries and deaths sustained during automated snow removal. Injuries and deaths from manual snow clearing had greater representation across gender lines, as well as across various age groups and race categories. This indicates that a greater cross-section of society relies on the standard shovel in comparison to the snow blower for snow removal. The most likely injuries sustained during shoveling were to the neck and back, while hand and finger injuries were far more common during the use of a snow blower. Similar percentages of cardiac (30%) and non-cardiac chest injuries (70%) were found for both manual and automated modes of snow removal. While the majority of cardiac chest injuries were in those aged 40-59 for shoveling and 60-79 for snow blowing, the majority of cardiac fatalities were in those aged 60-79 for both methods of snow removal. Daily all-cause mortality and daily deaths from acute heart attacks showed a weak but inverse relationship to daily maximum, minimum and average temperatures. Mortality related to temperatures had significant lag effects for two days. Daily all-cause and heart attack mortality were also significantly related to the depth of the existing snowpack. Snow to liquid ratios indicating differences between heavy, wet snow and dry, powdery snow were not significant. However, the water equivalent of the existing snowpack was significantly related to daily mortality. Comparisons between all age and elderly mortality showed weaker and opposite relationships for the elderly group suggesting the use of protective behaviors such as cold and snow avoidance.