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At Saffren and Weinberg, Marc Alan Weinberg, Attorney and Kenneth Scott Saffren, Attorney are partners. The firm’s tagline is “The People’s Voice In Court.” They make themselves available via phone at (215) 576-0100 or by email on the Saffren and Weinberg website. Saffren and Weinberg provides a no-charge, complimentary case review and answers questions for prospective clients.


Shoveling Techniques to Help You Avoid Back Injuries This Winter


Every year more than 11,000 cases of shoveling injuries are reported in the United States. The injuries range from back injuries, fractures to cardiovascular failure. A 2011 study published in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine says that most shoveling-related accidents are due to overexertion caused by improper shoveling technique, use of wrongly-designed shovels, and slips and falls on snowy surfaces.

The attorneys at Saffren & Weinberg have decades of experience in representing clients in personal injury lawsuits. Our experts continue to provide legal consultation on questions related to slips, falls and other accidents caused by negligence.

Recognizing the need for guidance in the area of shoveling accidents, we’ve compiled some tips that can help you avoid shoveling injuries.

The Basics

Shoveling is a heavy-duty exercise that has aspects of both weight lifting and aerobics. Needless to say, it’s not for the faint-hearted or the untrained.

Consider the points below for general safety while shoveling snow:

  • If you’re above the age of 50, consult your physician to assess your heart’s health before you pick up the shovel.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal or drink caffeinated beverages just before shoveling. These are stimulants known to increase heart rate.
  • Dress in layers and wear boots with slip-resistant soles. Protect your hands from lacerations by wearing thick, leather gloves.
  • If the ground is icy or slippery, use sand, rock salt or kitty litter to create foot traction.
  • Watch out for uneven surfaces and icy patches.
  • Stop shoveling immediately if your body raises red flags such as chest discomfort, shortness of breath, or prolonged cramps. Seek medical help, if needed.
  • Stagger the task. Go for short spurts of rigorous shoveling interspersed with breaks. During downtime, rehydrate yourself with fluids, stretch your shoulders, arms, and finger muscles and do deep breathing.
  • In deep snow, it’s better to shovel a few inches off the top instead of trying to remove all the snow at once.
  • Clear snow as it falls. Fresh snow is easier to shovel than snow that has been sitting awhile and become dense and packed.

Pick the Right Shovel

The design and material of a shovel can make a difference too. A well-designed shovel will be:

  • Ergonomically-designed: Such shovels reduce or eliminate the need for bending and lifting. They have a contoured handle, a curved blade, and an adjustable rod length.
  • Lightweight: Steel shovels tend to be heavy; opt for shovels made of plastic or aluminum. Shovels designed for pushing snow are desirable. Also, shovels with smaller blades will limit the weight you lift per load, reducing strain on your spine. Keep the snow from sticking onto the blade by spraying the blade with silicone lubricant. The snow will slide off the blade.

Warm up Your Body

Experts recommend a brief warm up before you start shoveling. Take a brisk walk, jog on the spot, practice squats or hamstring stretches to get those muscles and joints flexed and ready to get into action. If you don’t, you’re more likely to get sprained or get a neck injury.

Perfect Your Technique

Try pushing snow out of the way, instead of lifting it. Some other considerations can help perfect your shoveling technique:

  • Have your full body face towards the load of snow you wish to heave up. Don’t twist from the waist.
  • Squat with feet wide apart, back straight, and knees bent.
  • Hold the shovel close to your body. Grip it with one hand as close as possible to the blade and the other hand on its handle.
  • For bending to pick up snow, bend at the hips and point your chest forward.
  • Suck in your stomach muscles when you lift the snow. Pick a load you can manage comfortably.
  • Instead of throwing or tossing the snow, walk over to the new place.Keep the loaded shovel close to your center of gravity. Do not walk with arms outstretched and holding a load of snow.
  • For dumping the snow, shift your feet so that your full body squarely faces the direction of the new location, and dump your shovel load.
  • Most importantly, remember to lift with your legs instead of your back! This is how most people end up injuring themselves.

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe by following these guidelines.

Personal injury caused due to improper conditions at work or public roadways can cause you a lot of distress both physically and financially. Call Saffren & Weinberg today at (215) 576-0100 for a free consultation and to know your rights if you file a claim.


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Kenneth Scott Saffren / About the author

Ken Saffren, Esq, is a partner of Saffren & Weinberg located in Jenkintown, PA, practicing in workers’ compensation, social security, and personal injury litigation. He is a member of both the United States District Court of New Jersey and Eastern District of Pennsylvania Supreme Court, as well as PHN Epsilon Roe.

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