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As the operator of a snowplow, it’s crucial to recognize the approaching winter weather and understand that cities and municipalities will rely on your skills to clear snow and ice from their roadways. While snowplows are valuable winter tools, it falls on you to ensure their safe operation.
Read on for more information on the safe operation of snowplows, and prepare for a winter season that prioritizes both efficiency and safety.
Snowplow Safety Tips
Operating snowplows in wintry conditions can present several risks. Here are safety tips to consider when using them to help ensure your and others’ safety:
- Get a good night’s sleep. This promotes heightened alertness, better decision-making, reduced fatigue and increased safety on treacherous winter roads.
- Review your route to be ready for steep hills, intersections, sharp turns, narrow streets, changes in surfaces and other potential hazards (e.g., speed bumps, low limbs, railroad tracks, mailboxes, utility covers).
- Perform a pre-trip inspection on your vehicle. Inspect the brakes, lights, wipers, tires, spreader and auger, defroster, mirrors and other safety features.
- Ensure your snowplow is properly equipped with emergency supplies such as a first-aid kit, radio, cellphone, flashlight, shovel, flares, reflective vest, blanket, food and drinking water.
- Enter and exit the snowplow’s cab safely using the three points of contact method (i.e., face the vehicle and keep one foot and two hands or two feet and one hand on the vehicle at all times).
- Stay alert when driving, watch your speed, wear a safety belt, use turn signals, and follow all applicable traffic laws while being patient with other drivers and pedestrians.
- Know where to safely pile the snow; avoid placing it in high-traffic areas as it could melt and refreeze, creating slippery black ice, and avoid blocking fire hydrants, fire lanes and drains.
- Avoid pushing snow off bridges or overpasses, as it can fall on cars or people below. Consider how windy conditions may affect visibility and where to pile snow.
- Routinely check your mirrors and blind spots, look for closely following vehicles and scan the area for stalled cars, pedestrians, animals or children playing on snow piles.
- Make sure to pay attention to parked cars and mailbox locations in residential areas so as not to hit these objects when clearing the sides of the streets.
- Stop periodically to clear ice and snow from your lights and windows and ensure the plow shoes are adjusted for various surfaces.
- Pull over on the side of the road if you need to report an accident or emergency to avoid distracted driving.
- Remember to set the brakes and disengage the power to the spreader and plow before exiting the cab.
- Never drink alcohol or use other drugs prior to heading out to plow snow.
- Drive defensively when operating a snowplow to prevent accidents from occurring.
For more safety information, contact your supervisor.