by | General Liability |

As I inch up the thermostat, I wonder when the outdoors will turn from green to white. Many seasonal contractors that I know operate snow removal equipment. And, there are many things to consider as the winter season approaches. How much staff should you leave on call? How much sand and salt should you purchase? Should you replace one of your trucks? Is it going to snow or rain this winter? As you consider all the options, who can say what this winter may bring.  Despite winter’s unpredictability,  there are some items we can plan for.  With my background in safety and part time experience as a plow truck driver, I have developed these safety tips for snow removal. Following these tips can reduce the chances of an accident and keep drivers safe during the winter solstice.

Know Your Customer!

Once you get the bid, walk the site and look for hazards that may not be visible once snow accumulates. Add stakes or reflectors to water or gas shut offs, curbing, flower beds or any other low lying obstacle. Also consider where you’re putting that snow bank. Try and pile the snow away from walkways or intersections. As the snow melts, it can refreeze and create an unwanted skating rink in those walkways. Also, snow piled at an exit or intersection can decrease visibility for motorists. Lastly, keep an eye out for effective and efficient plowing procedures. What’s that you say? Plow the lot in your mind first, find the way that uses the least amount of fuel and avoids backing. Reducing fuel consumption can help the bottom line. Avoiding backing will reduce the likelihood of a collision as a result of blind spots. According to a large national hauling and trucking company, backing a heavy vehicle is the number one cause of accidents that plagues drivers.1

Maintain Your Equipment 

Trucks or equipment should be in well-maintained condition before the first storm. Winterize your vehicles and replace worn tires. Make sure vehicles have adequate fluid levels and all the lights are working. It’s always a best practice to add strobe and spot lights to increase visibility in those late nights or early mornings. This will further improve motorist acknowledgement of your activity.  Consider removing the tailgate of your pickups, or at the very least, try to operate with them lowered. This will allow a few more feet of visibility directly behind the truck.

 Encourage Personal Preparedness

Yes, we do get quick-hitting snow storms that can drop several inches, particularly in towns at higher elevations. However; since snow storms typically last longer than an hour, long work days become the norm. Further preparation is needed in the cab of the vehicle. We often remember our lunch box or cup of coffee but try not to forget: gloves, a winter cap, an extra sweatshirt, a few bottles of water and a cell phone charger.

When plowing during the day, prepare for solar glare. Throw in your favorite pair of Ray-Bans to protect your eyes in the extreme bright light. Another tip is to keep your rig clean. Cleaning the salt grime off your mirrors and windshield will increase your visibility.

Additionally, Acadia recommends using snow plow and sanding logs to show when you were onsite and what actions you took to mitigate the snow accumulation.

Keep in mind your employees’ safety. Ensure they are equipped with proper footwear and remind them to be cautious while outside of the vehicle. Slips and falls are a frequent cause of injury in the winter. Always remember to use three points of contact while exiting or entering a piece of equipment.

Be Vigilant About Safety

I understand that sometimes plowing can feel like a thankless but necessary activity. No one needs a plow until it snows, and then everyone wonders why their street got plowed last.  So, take a few moments to prepare your fleet and your lots beforehand. It will go a long way once the 3 am wake-up calls begin.

1Baggett Transportation 2010


Acadia is pleased to share this material for the benefit of its customers.  Please note, however, that nothing herein should be construed as either legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services.  This material is for informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.  Recipients of this material must utilize their own individual professional judgment in implementing sound risk management practices and procedures.

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