Snowplow safety requires planning and good judgment

In snowy areas, it’s second nature: you get up early to plow parking lots so business can proceed as usual. But heavy snowfalls, windy conditions, and full parking lots can all present challenges to plowing safely.

Here’s how it’s done.

Before the job site
Drivers need to be rested and refreshed. Tired employees react slower and make poor decisions. In fact, fatigue is a major contributor to fleet accidents.

Remember the three-point contact rule: Always use two feet and one hand, or two hands and one foot to enter or exit the truck cab.

Require reflective safety vests for drivers who leave a truck for any reason, and seatbelts when driving to, at, or from customer sites.

Getting to the job site
When traveling, angle the blade toward the curb to your right. You’re less likely to strike it or a snow bank, pulling your truck into it.

Don’t operate the plow – it creates extra wear-and-tear on the equipment. Make sure it’s not blocking your headlights or vision.

If possible, do not exceed 40 mph. Higher speeds can cause you to lose control easier and create a blinding snow plume behind your vehicle.

At the job site
To spare your equipment – and ensure good reaction time – plow slower than 15 mph. Any faster, and it’s easy to strike a speed bump, manhole cover, grate, or careless driver. Don’t rely solely on your mirrors when backing; look back, just in case an inattentive driver is crossing your path.

Keep up with the storm rather than waiting for the snowfall to finish accumulating. However, sometimes, sending out drivers may not be worth the risk, especially during high-wind whiteout conditions.

Plow areas where there are storm grates and drains first. Do not pile snow near buildings (it can cause water damage), or obstruct key traffic lanes and exits with high snow piles that limit visibility.

Be aware of your clients. Drug and grocery stores, and medical offices have a higher number of elderly customers. Make sure handicap areas and sidewalks are cleared and salted, and do not pile snow next to them. As the snow melts, it can create icy conditions, and the elderly are more likely to break bones in slip-and-fall accidents than younger customers.

Use these tips or share them with your employees to reduce the likelihood of injuries, and equipment or property damage.