The main reason why we plow snow during the late evening and well into the early morning hours is because most everyone is at home relaxing. Vehicles are, for the most part, out of your way and street traffic is typically light. This translates to a safer snow plowing environment for both the general public and the operator.
Every snow removal contractor is well aware of the dangers of night time snow plowing, but making sure your snow plow operators get it we put together this checklist of safety tips that will keep them plowing throughout the night.
Snow Plowing Preparation 101
Managing a fleet of snow removal operators can be a daunting task, but if all your operators are educated on what to expect before they enter the job site, it can minimize fault. Get your crew in a meeting room, go over each and every snow removal site.
They need to know not only where the snow gets piled, but what the potential hazards are at each site. All your operators should be aware of where potential hazards can get buried like fire hydrants or telephone boxes.
Use Google maps to get computer screen shots of the job site so you can visually see the best way for it to be plowed and mark those potential hazards.
Dress for a Long Night of Plowing Snow
We know what it’s like to be running your skid steer plowing snow or operating a tractor plowing snow. After an hour of sitting in a heated cab, the operator will want to dress lighter cause it gets hot sitting there with a set of work bibs and a jacket on. That’s fine if you’d rather dress light, but pack your heavier clothing for an unfortunate event like a stalled machine or your having to get out of the cab for extended periods of time.
We forget how quickly a situation can go from bad to worse when we’re working out in the cold nights. There’s no sun to keep the cab naturally warmed and your body will rapidly lose heat if you’re not properly dressed in a bad event. In some cases, companies will choose to invest in their employees snow plowing attire because it’s a way more economical option than paying for their hypothermia treatments.
Shoveling crews are on their feet for a long time so a comfortable, warm pair of boots is a must. Make sure they can take on deep snow conditions, too. Close second to boots is gloves and hat. The body’s extremities are the first to experience frost bite and 90% of heat loss occurs at the top of your head so protect them well.
Take Regular Breaks During Long Nights Snow Plowing
Fatigue can set in really fast during night time hours. Sitting in that heated cab can be hypnotizing and cause an operator’s mind to wander. Taking regularly scheduled breaks is recommended for those long nights of plowing snow.
Have a plan in place should your operators need to take a break. Determine how many hours of operation would be the cut off before taking a break. Encourage your operators to step out of the cab and do some simple stretching exercises or a short walk to get the blood flowing again. Encourage them to bring snack and drinking water to also help keep the mind alert.
The Crew Better Be Well Rested
We never like to see snow plow operators falling asleep on the job so it’s imperative that they dedicate themselves to proper rest before pulling an all-nighter plowing snow. Establish boundaries for safe equipment operation and let it be loudly stated that all your operators need to be rested up before the approach of potentially big snow storm.
Don’t risk your company’s reputation by sending out an operator that is clearly not rested enough to take on the task of plowing snow throughout the night. One careless accident can severely damage more than just property.
Set the Ground Rules from Day One
Whenever you have a new hire, make sure you set the ground rules with them right away. Let them know that safety is priority one as a snow removal contractor. Take the time to point out the potential dangers or hazards that can happen during nighttime snow plowing. Setting the expectations from them will give you, the business owner, greater peace of mind.
Listen to Your Operators
Your operators are out there dealing with the day to day obstacles of plowing snow at night. If they have suggestions on how to make their job safer or more comfortable take the opportunity to listen to them. Now not every suggestion will be a reasonable one, but one thing’s for sure … if your operators are happy they will do what they can to make sure the job gets done right and done safely.