Snow-How: 6 Snow Safety Tips for Equipment Operators
Without a doubt, snow removal is tough work. It’s expected to regularly face harsh weather conditions, such as freezing cold temperatures or biting winds, plus the need for snow crews to work long hours in the dark, making visibility and operator alertness a challenge.
There is always pressure to get the job done quickly, especially when snow is still falling or more is expected to come soon. There is truly a lot that you have to worry about, but the safety of your crew and the public should always be the main focus above all else.
Making safety a priority starts with an ongoing training program and clear communication about what is expected before your crew hits the road. Anyone who operates snow removal equipment must be adequately trained. That includes learning the proper techniques for pushing, blowing, and piling snow or ice, as well as being educated about the details of how to handle potential hazards.
This article will discuss six essential snow removal safety tips that can help keep everyone safe while plowing through your winter work.
1. Put People First
Even when clearing snow is your mission, safety must be your priority.
If you’re clearing large or small parking lots, it’s important that you block off the entrances with safety cones to let the public know that you’re at work and to avoid anyone entering the area without you knowing.
If your job takes you to the sidewalks or streets, keep your eyes up and slow down around corners. You never know what’s around each corner and whether that person or vehicle will be able to stop in time.
While you may be under pressure to get many properties cleared, don’t rush. Train your crew to work efficiently while being aware of their surroundings and watching for pedestrians, vehicles and obstacles.
It is especially important to always look in the direction you are moving in and make sure that you and your crew look out for kids; they tend to love climbing and playing in and around snow piles.
2. Know The Site
Planning for a snow removal job ahead of time is a critical step for keeping your crew safe. If possible, visit the site before the first snowfall when it is easier to identify potential obstacles or hazards that might get covered in snow or hidden in the dark.
That includes hydrants, drop-offs, curbs, posts, overhead obstructions, and other structures, which can all pose risks if you are unaware of their existence while clearing snow.
Work with the property owner to mark items that could become buried and unseen if the snow gets deep enough. In addition, if you need to send operators to clear a site they haven’t been to before, have a co-worker with experience on that site accompany them.
That way, they can provide valuable information about potential problems.
3. Dress The Part
You’ll probably have fairly limited visibility when you’re removing heavy snow as it continues to fall. The same goes for everyone else who is out and about near your job site. Therefore, wearing bright and reflective clothing will help keep you and your crew visible, whether it is night or day.
In frigid temperatures, it is also important to wear layers, bring extra gloves, and wear a coat and boots that are water-resistant. Even when you are working in a heated, enclosed cab, these articles of clothing can make a huge difference.
There is nothing worse than having to struggle through a shift while you’re freezing.
4. Expect The Unexpected
Even when with impeccable planning, you never know when the unexpected can happen. However, if you prepare for worst-case scenarios, you will be at a significant advantage. That means thinking about items that would be useful in case of an emergency situation and ensuring that you have them on hand.
Before heading out for a job, you and your crew should charge your cell phones in case you need to call for assistance and try to take along emergency items like a tool kit, a flashlight, a first-aid kit, and easily replaceable spare parts that may succumb to the winter weather like batteries and wiper blades.
Additionally, pack water and snacks to keep yourself hydrated, alert, and working at top performance.
5. Know Your Customers’ Safety Requirements
When you are in the business of snow removal, you often have to deal with a wide range of clients, and sometimes each one may have their own way of doing things.
Clients may vary in opinion, especially when it comes to safety requirements. The best practice is to communicate with customers about this matter and ask them if they have any specific property rules or regulations that they would like your crew to be trained on.
6. Maintain Equipment In Cold Weather
The winter season can be extremely hard on your equipment. However, you can get it through the cold and snowy months with the right maintenance.
Tires are a crucial part of any piece of equipment, but solid tires tend to be vulnerable to uneven wear, cracking, and chunking in the winter, and air tires can easily lose their air pressure. Therefore, check your tires daily to ensure there are no issues.
Snowy winter conditions can occasionally pose problems for your undercarriage, so it’s important to clear away mud, snow, and debris as it collects and have it properly maintained throughout the season.
It is also necessary to keep an eye on your fluids since cold weather often causes oil to thicken and also affects coolant, too. Your best bet is to choose an oil that matches outside temperatures and to change your coolant and water ratio from 50/50 to 70/30.
Also, keep your fuel tank full and ensure the fuel cap is tight to prevent condensation inside the tank or fuel lines, which could lead to fuel contamination.
Finally, guarantee that your batteries are in good condition before heading out for a job, as cold temperatures can drain batteries much faster than usual. Perform occasional electrolyte level tests to ensure your battery does not let you down when you need it most.
Contact Oaken Equipment
If you are looking for an equipment dealer in Toronto, Windsor, Barrie or Muskoka, the Oaken Equipment dealer network has everything you need for your Bobcat compact construction equipment. As you know, with the right combination of machines and attachments, snow removal is considerably easier for you and your crew.
Our versatile line of Bobcat snow removal equipment is top-quality when it comes to speed, power, and overall performance. One of our experts would be glad to answer all of your questions about any of our Bobcat equipment, parts, service or rental fleet.