Volume No. 58
THINK–ACT– BE SAFE:
Safe Winter Operations for Professional Snowplow Operators
As a professional snowplow operator, safety should be
your #1 priority. You need to constantly think safe and act safe so that you
will be safe. You know the importance of knowing your job, and the hazards
associated with it. You are out in that winter storm because the roads are
unsafe for driving. You are the one that is making
the roads safe for all the motorists who need to get to work or carry out
essential emergency operations or just need to continue on their life’s journey.
Realizing the importance of your job, and your safety, let’s review the many
issues encountered in the job of snowplowing. Some items can be addressed prior
to winter, while other items need to be
dealt with during winter operations. The next page provides a checklist for ease
of use since snowplowing is a complex business! Train for Winter Operations. A
well-trained snowplow operator will be a safe snowplow operator.
Training is essential for the safe and proper handling of materials, maintenance
of equipment, and
operation of equipment. You may already know how to drive a truck, but new
snowplow operators will benefit from practicing with a plow and a loaded
Drive Safely. Drive defensively, obey traffic laws, do not speed,and maintain an
adequate stopping distance. The extra size and weight of your vehicle and the
road conditions will necessitate a substantially greater stopping distance than
you normally need.
Fatigue is a big safety factor. Long hours of plowing and spreading can be
exhausting. Know your own limitations – your sleep needs may differ from your
co-workers. Supervisors should recognize that all individuals are different and
encourage snowplow operators to meet personal sleep requirements. Cooperation
operators and supervisors is essential to meet this safety need. Know Your
Route. “Dry runs” can be a valuable safety practice. Run your routes just prior
to winter and take notice of what has changed since last winter. Make notes of
locations with new obstacles, such as drainage, utilities, guardrails, curbs,
medians, etc. If
possible, mark these locations so you can recognize them when hey are covered
with snow. Remember to always check for overhead hazards such as low hanging
wires or tree limbs.
“Wet runs” are even better than “dry runs”. Running your route in the rain makes
it easier to spot drainage problem and ponding.These locations are likely to be
icy in winter weather.
Material Safety. Handling abrasives, salt and other chemicals need not be
hazardous. Know what you are handling and follow the common sense requirements
for personal protection. Refer to the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for
each of the products you use. Become familiar with precautions for each
material, including the use, handling, personal protective equipment, and
emergency procedures in case of exposure or spill.
Crew Equipment. Adequate sleep, multi-layered clothing, hardhat with liner,
safety vest, safety shoes, boots, gloves and first-aid kit equip the snowplow
operator with a good start. Thermoses and lunch boxes – filled with nutritional
food - provide comfort for a long shift away from convenient pit stops.
Vehicle Equipment. Every vehicle should be equipped with a flashlight and extra
batteries, ice scraper/snow brush, jumper cables, a basic tool kit, flares or
reflectors, flags for traffic control,shovel and sand, and a fire extinguisher.
Check to make sure vehicles are fully operational before the season begins.
Specific items to check include: lights, back-up alarm, plow flags, warning
signs, radio communications, windows, mirrors, fluid levels, tire tread and
inflation, brakes, windshield wipers and wiper blades, heater, and defroster.
Operations Safety. Know your truck and equipment. Perform safety checks pre-trip
and daily. With a full fuel tank and a final walk-around, your last safety
practice before driving off is to buckle up. The use of your safety belt should
become a habit, a natural action prior to turning the key in the ignition.
Know your safe backing rules. Do the circle of safety, back slowly, back
straight, and use an outside guide if possible. If you are spreading material
and running with your truck bed up, the bottom
of the truck bed should not be higher than the top of the cab. Watch for
overhead wires and tree limbs.
When working on or unclogging a spreader, make sure your engine and all power to
the spreader is turned off. In addition, relieve all pressure in the hydraulics
and then use a tool to unclog. Even though all power is off, the reserve
pressure in the hydraulic lines can still turn the augur as it is freed. As a
professional snowplow operator, you provide a vital service to maintain a safe
transportation system. Remember, your winning
combination to winter operation safety is to constantly think and act safe to be
Personal Protective Equipment
Multi-layered Warm Clothing
Hardhat with liner
Flashlight with Extra Batteries
Ice Scraper / Snow Brush
Basic Tool Kit
Flares or Reflectors
Flags (Traffic control)
Shovel and Traction Material (sand)
Fire Extinguisher – check pressure
Thermos and Lunchbox
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
Winter Operations Safety Checklist
Safe Winter Operations for Professional Snowplow operators
Vehicle and Equipment Safety
Daily Check/Pre-Trip Inspection
Tire Tread and Inflation
Windshield Wipers & Wiper Blades
Clean Windows and Mirrors
Warning Signs on Rear of Truck
Full Fuel Tank
Obey Traffic Laws
Do Not Speed
Safe Backing Circle-of-Safety
Allow Sufficient Stopping Distance
Dump Bed no higher than Cab Top when moving
Block Plow before Changing Blade
It’s almost plowing season and time to think about what it takes to be safe
while getting your job done. Driving a snow plow is hard work. It requires
driving for long hours in conditions that many other drivers consider too risky
for travel. While you are concerned with providing safe and clear travel for
motorists, you must not overlook your own safety.
Here are a few tips to make snow plowing safer:
Start work physically and mentally
rested and properly clothed.
Check all equipment before each use.
Inspect the lights, brakes, windshield wipers, defroster,
plow bolts and chains, spreader and auger, flares and other
Know your route. Perform pre-storm
route inspection observing landmarks and the locations of
(guardrails, curbs, railroad tracks, bridge joints, mailboxes, manhole covers,
etc.) which may be hidden by falling or plowed snow.
Choose the speed appropriate for
conditions. Resist the urge to get the job done in a hurry.
Be considerate of motorists having
trouble driving in the snow. Keep your temper and patience
when vehicles pass or tailgate.
Be brief when using the radio. Report
stranded motorists and other emergencies when possible.
Observe all traffic laws and signal
your intentions clearly. Always wear your seat belt.
Before leaving the cab, set the brakes
and disengage the power to the spreader and snowplow.
Watch for signs of fatigue. Staring for
hours at the driving snow can have a hypnotizing effect on
drivers. The long hours and stress can take their toll as
well. If you feel the onset of fatigue, take a short break –
get out and walk around the truck and take some deep
Contributed by the Rhode Island
Local Technical Assistance
Program (LTAP), which serves as the Technology Transfer (T2) effort of the
Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Professional Development. In
Connecticut, this program is effectively delivered by the CT Technology Transfer
(T2) Center located at the UCONN School of Engineering’s Transportation
Visit them at www.T2Center.uconn.edu.
Snow Plow Safety Tips 3
Monoxide-A silent killer
By: Michelle Major-Occupational Hygienist,
All people and animals are at risk for CO poisoning. Certain groups – unborn
babies, infants and
people with chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems – are more
to its effects. Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional CO
than 20,000 visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to
poisoning. Fatality is highest among Americans 65 and older.” -Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention
What is carbon monoxide (CO) and how does it affect
Carbon monoxide or CO is a colorless and odorless gas which can interfere with
the oxygen-carrying capacity of
the blood. Red blood cells have the ability to pick up CO faster than oxygen. If
there is a significant enough concentration of CO in the air, the body may
replace oxygen in the blood by forming carboxyhemoglobin, thereby inhibiting the
blood’s ability to carry oxygen. What are the symptoms of CO poisoning? The most
common symptoms of CO poisoning are headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, nausea,
vomiting, tightness across the chest, and confusion. Furthermore, the
formation of carboxyhemoglobin in the body can cause a bright red color to the
skin and mucous membranes, resulting in breathing difficulties, collapse,
damage, coma, and death.
What are some common sources of CO exposure?
Portable generators/generators in
Concrete cutting saws.
Gasoline powered pumps.
Forklifts powered with internal
when used indoors, especially during cold weather when doors and windows are
How can exposure to CO be prevented and/or minimized?
Never use generators indoors or in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces such as
garages, crawl spaces, and basements. Make sure that generators, when used, have
3-4 feet of clear space on all sides and above them to ensure adequate
ventilation. Do not use generators outdoors if placed near doors, windows,
or vents which could allow CO to enter and accumulate in occupied spaces.
Consider using tools powered by electricity or compressed air. Enclose work
operations where feasible and use local exhaust ventilation at the site of
chemical release. Install CO alarm detection systems in work areas to warn
of unhealthy and or dangerous exposure levels. Post appropriate hazard warning
information in work areas and
provide employees with effective hazard communication training. If you
experience symptoms of CO poisoning, get to fresh air and seek immediate medical
CONN-OSHA’s Air Contaminants standards require employers to ensure that no
employee is exposed to an airborne
concentration of CO which exceeds 35 parts per million parts of air (ppm) as an
8-hour time-weighted average
known as the permissible exposure limit (PEL). In addition, employers are
required to ensure that no employee
is exposed to an airborne CO concentration above 200 ppm at any point during the
work shift (Ceiling or “C”
State & Town: CONN-OSHA (860) 263-6946 (local) or
Private Employers: Report to Federal OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA(6742)Fatality &
Confined Space Safety November 18, 2009 This workshop includes the basic
requirements and procedures involved with permit-required confined spaces as
detailed in 29 CFR 1910.146. This class will be held from 10 am-12 noon.
OSHA Recordkeeping December 10, 2009 earn how to fill out the OSHA Log of
Work-Related Injuries & Illnesses (Form 300) accurately and correctly. This
class will be held from 9 am-12 noon.
Construction Site Safety December 18, 2009
Construction managers, first line supervisors, and construction employees will
be provided with an overview of four areas of concern on the construction site.
Program contents include: fall protection, scaffolding and ladders, electrical
hazards, and trenching safety. This class will be held from 10:00 am—12 noon
Lockout/Tagout: Understanding & Implementing Energy Control Procedures December
17, 2009 Discussion of OSHA’s 29 CFR 1910.147 standard requires the isolation of
energy sources to prevent accidental re-energization. This class will be held
from 10 am-12 noon.
OSHA Recordkeeping January 5, 2010 Learn how to fill out the OSHA Log of
Work-Related Injuries & Illnesses (Form 300) accurately and correctly. This
class will be held from 1pm to 4 pm.
Breakfast Roundtable This discussion group meets the third Tuesday of every
month from 8:15 am to 9:45 am. Pre-registration is required. To be placed on the
e-mail distribution list, contact John Able at firstname.lastname@example.org
Classes are free and held at 200 Folly Brook Boulevard, Wethersfield, CT in
Conference Room A/B. To register, contact John Able at email@example.com.
Pre-registration is required. For more training information, visit the CONN-OSHA
Hazard Corner ...
At approximately 3:45 on a Friday afternoon late in October, in response to
reports of inclement winter weather, a 32-year-old Department of Transportation
Maintainer was preparing a dump truck for sand/salt dispersal. The preparation
process included outfitting the truck with a plow and chains, and ensuring the
sanding mechanism is free from obstructions by running the conveyor and spinner.
The employee drove the vehicle to the far end of the facility to run the
conveyor. While the conveyor was running, this employee attempted to enter the
dump body via a ladder mounted to the dump body on the driver’s side of the
vehicle. At this time, the employee’s foot became lodged under the gate where
the conveyor pushes the sand mixture through to the spreader chute. The trauma
sustained from the running conveyor ultimately resulted in the amputation of the
#1 Follow all manufacturer recommendations for safe use of equipment. In
addition, do not remove any factory installed placards and be sure to replace
those that have become unreadable.
#2 Ensure that employees are protected from the hazard of ingoing nip points and
rotating parts. According to
29CFR1910.212, the employer must ensure that machine operators and other
employees in the machine area are protected from hazards including but not
limited to those from ingoing nip points and rotating parts. There are multiple
ways guarding can be accomplished depending on the piece of equipment. The
employer should consider which method or combination of methods would be most
#3 Perform a hazard analysis prior to equipment use. Once the employer has
identified the potential hazards that
exist through the hazard analysis, written policies and procedures should be
developed that eliminate or reduce employee exposure to the hazard(s).
#4 Provide training and education for employees on the hazards and proper use of
equipment at the workplace.
Once the employer has identified a hazard and has put policies and procedures in
place to eliminate or minimize employee exposure to the hazard, the employer
should communicate this information to the affected employees through training
and education. In this case, a warning placard which warned of the danger of a
moving chain, was affixed to the vehicle body adjacent to the ladder. However,
because it was acceptable to enter the dump body for some purposes, employees
likely became indifferent to the placard and the potential hazard.
Effective policies and procedures are those which are CLEARLY communicated to
EACH affected employee and are
reinforced on a regular basis. It is important to remember that every employee
has different levels of experience and knowledge and what seems obvious to one
employee may not be as obvious to another. Training and educational materials
should take all levels of experience into consideration.
Connecticut Department of Labor - OSHA
38 Wolcott Hill Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109
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April 17, 2018