February 08

Snow Plowing Safety Reminders

Come Winter time in areas up North, a lot of landscaping businesses slow down or stop their normal activities because of the low temperatures and frozen ground. In order to supplement their revenue during the winter months, many landscaping operations will turn to snow removal operations.

Landscaping ventures are unique in that their jobs, and therefore their risks, change by the season. Spring and Summer time see the largest projects and continued grounds maintenance, Autumn sees mostly grounds maintenance and leaf clean up, and winter sees mostly snow removal.

Snow removal brings with it many unique risks, most which can be attributed to the dangerous conditions the snow-plowers are out in during snow removal. Following these safety guidelines can help keep drivers healthy and equipment intact:

  • When transporting a snowplow, angle the blade to the right (toward the curb). This will reduce the chance of catching a curb or a snow-bank that could pull your vehicle into it.
  • Never operate a plow while transporting it to and from a job site. It’s a good idea to keep the plow control turned off in order to prevent accidental operation.
  • When transporting a plow, position the blade so as not to block the plow headlights or your vision.
  • Do not exceed 40 mph when transporting a plow. Do not exceed 14 mph when plowing.
  • When transporting a plow or while plowing, check the temperature gauge often. Overheating the engine can be costly. If the vehicle overheats, stop and correct the problem. If overheating occurs while transporting, stop and adjust blade position to allow more airflow to the radiator.
  • Before it snows, walk around the area you will be plowing to check for obstacles that will become hidden when snow is on the ground. Look for things such as bumper stops and speed bumps, curbs, sidewalk edges, shrubs, water drains, fire hydrants, fences and pipes sticking up from the ground. To prevent damage to the area being plowed as well as to your snowplow and truck, mark any obstructions that will be hard to see when there’s snow on the ground.
  • Always wear a seat belt when operating a motor vehicle and never plow with your head out the window.
  • When moving in reverse, don’t rely on the vehicle mirrors. Turn around and look where you’re going.
  • When plowing in dirt or gravel, lower the plow shoes. This will raise the blade so you don’t scrape the surface away. When plowing on asphalt or concrete, raise or remove the plow shoes so that you scrape as close to the surface as possible.
  • When you’re finished plowing, lower the blade to the ground and turn the plow control off for safety. This will also take stress off the hydraulic components.

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Snow plowing is no easy task; it takes a lot of concentration and know-how of the areas that are being cleared out. Following the above precautions can help mitigate employee injury, equipment damage, and third party property damage while drivers are out removing snow. However, even the most experienced snow removal experts can have an accident, especially in severe weather. Should an accident occur, make sure to have an insurance program in place that understands the unique risks that landscapers face, no matter the season.

For more information on landscaping insurance and risk management, visit LandPro / TreePro.

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