Snow Plow Safety Tips
Keeping people and motorists safe is a top priority for everyone in the snow removal business. But ensuring that roads, driveways and parking lots are clear requires you and your snow plow operators to stay safe, too. Safety is critical not only to the health and well-being of you and your crew, but it means less equipment downtime – and more time on the job.
7 Tips for a Safe Plowing Season
1. Protect Your Personnel
Maximize behind-the-wheel safety by ensuring that you and your personnel are fully trained to operate your equipment. It is also important to keep your crew physically and mentally rested by having enough plow operators lined up for the season or on-call in case of a major storm. Remind your operators to wear warm clothing, slip-resistant footwear and reflective safety vests, and make sure plow vehicles are well-stocked with emergency safety equipment so they can weather any situation.
2. Take it Slow
When conditions are hazardous, it can be tempting to rush through plowing jobs. However, increasing your speed – especially on roads that are unsafe – can be extremely dangerous. It can also result in a less-than-thorough job, which is never good for business. Taking it slow and steady (don’t exceed 14 mph when plowing) is safer for you and easier on your equipment.
3. Avoid Overheating Your Engine
While plow vehicles are generally heavy duty, snow plows and snow are heavy, too. Given the extra strain on your vehicle’s engine, overheating is possible. To ensure safety, keep a close eye on the temperature gauge when you plow, as you don’t want to be stranded in the cold weather. If you start to overheat, pull over and adjust your plow angle to allow plenty of airflow to your radiator. Avoid pushing snow uphill, which also increases the strain on your engine.
4. Keep Your Equipment Well-Maintained
Maintenance may seem like an obvious snow plowing safety tip, but it’s essential to remind you. Inspect all of your equipment before each use, including lights, brakes, windshield wipers, defroster, hoses, plow bolts and chains, and all safety equipment. Look under the vehicle for signs of leaking fluid, and make sure your fuel tank is full. During the season, schedule regular maintenance as outlined in the equipment manufacturer’s operating manuals to prevent breakdowns while on the job. Preventive maintenance not only helps keep your people safe, but it allows you to schedule service work when it’s convenient for you – instead of when it becomes an emergency.
5. Check for Hazards Ahead of Time
When a site is covered with snow, it is difficult to know what safety hazards may lie underneath. If you know in advance what locations you will be plowing, familiarize yourself with the areas before the first snowfall. Note where there are curbs, speed bumps, manhole covers, and other obstacles. Installing markers or guides at the edges of driveways and sidewalks will help protect the property, your people and your equipment.
6. Look Before You Reverse
Many of today’s trucks and SUVs have safety features like back-up cameras and beeping warnings. However, technology is not foolproof. When you are moving your vehicle in reverse, be sure to turn your head and look where you are going. This is especially important if you are working in conditions with limited visibility or when your back-up sensors or mirrors may be obscured. Keep in mind that your ability to stop quickly may be compromised due to slippery conditions.
7. Drive Defensively
Perhaps the best way to stay safe whenever you or your crew are on the job is to drive responsibly. Plows often move at slower speeds than other traffic during winter maintenance operations, which can be hazardous to motorists. Make sure your plow lights are visible and be especially vigilant about obeying traffic rules. You also need to be knowledgeable about other local laws and ordinances. For instance, in most areas it is illegal to push snow across a public road when plowing – so know in advance where it is safe to pile the snow at each job site.
Plow Parts Direct has the parts and the personnel to keep your equipment operating safely all season long. Call us at 888-260-3246 to schedule a regular maintenance appointment or to get the replacements or repairs you need to get back out on the road – fast!