Laborer Dies While Clearing Snow After a Blizzard—Massachusetts

Massachusetts Case Report: 18MA031
Release Date: February 2019


On January 5, 2018, a 60-year-old laborer died while clearing snow in the early morning after a blizzard. At the time of the incident, the laborer was operating a snow blower to clear snow from a sidewalk. The laborer suffered a myocardial infarction and collapsed to the ground.

Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions;
  • Overexertion;
  • Extreme cold;
  • Early morning; and
  • Working alone.

Massachusetts FACE Program concluded that, to help prevent similar
occurrences, employers should:

  • Consider factors that may impact the risk of acute cardiac events such as time of day, physical demands of the task, and environmental conditions when scheduling tasks.
  • Ensure workers in cold environments are adequately warm by developing protocols to prevent cold stress.
  • Consider developing policies that prevent working alone in certain situations.
  • Train workers on basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and consider having an automated external defibrillator (AED) available at work sites and provide training for workers on their use.
  • Educate all workers about the work conditions that might increase their risk of cardiovascular disease and the signs of cardiac arrest.

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Page last reviewed: April 13, 2020