By Cheryl Higley
Dumping snow from parking structures requires a tight choreography of operations to ensure the safety not only of those dumping, but those on the ground and in other areas of the garages. Following are safety suggestions from Deb Mattson, snow contracts manager for B&W Paving and Landscaping in Connecticut and a member of SIMA’s board of directors:
. Have at least one safety person on the ground to divert traffic at least 100 to 200 feet from the dumping area. Rope off the area and place work cones, lights and safety signs to alert pedestrian traffic to dangerous conditions. 2
. Whenever possible, work overnight so there will be fewer drivers and cars in the garage. Regardless of the time, barricade the entrance and exits to the level where you are working. 3
. All personnel on the ground must wear hard hats, fluorescent safety vests and other appropriate personal protective equipment. Falling snow dumped from such a height can be dangerous. 4
. Choose your equipment wisely. Machines with buckets can damage concrete if you try to dump over the wall. If possible, use a machine with a blower attachment to make it easier to get the snow to its desired location. 5
. Be aware of the wind, which can become your enemy and undermine your progress. If it is windy, that might require a loader since dumping will contain the snow better. However, make sure your loader drivers are well trained. If there is any concern for the integrity of the structure or the safety of your operators in windy conditions, don’t try to dump; instead, get the snow tucked into one area of the garage and block it off until the winds cease. Sometimes not doing something is the best answer. 6
. Be aware of what’s underneath the level you’re servicing. If you’re dumping off the top deck, residual snow will fall into every level underneath. Synchronize your operations so that you have a plow truck on each level directly underneath your dump position. Those drivers can then clear those levels to avoid the snow freezing to the parking deck. 7
. Check with the property owners before you select a site since they may not own the area in which you want to dump. Make sure if you’re dumping and loading on a roadway that you check with the municipality and/or police department to see if there are restrictions or requirements. In Connecticut, for example, you must have a policeman present if you’re dumping onto a city or county street. 8
. Know where the joints in the parking structure are and that you are using the correct blades to prevent damage. Parking structure snow and ice management requires explicit training for this specialized service. 9
. Methodically stack any snow that cannot be dumped off the structure. The pile may melt and refreeze or if stacked too high could cause structural damage. At the earliest and safest possible time, remove the snow from the structure. 10
. Be aware of your equipment, including the heights of your trucks if you’re running with safety bars or antennas. Ensure your lights work, and backup alarms are functioning. Customers and clients may not like the noise from the alarms, but they echo in a parking garage, so everyone knows you’re there — and that’s a good thing.
For more on this topic, check out the SIMA webinar Specialty Services: Managing Parking Decks & Rooftop Snow
, available on the SIMA Training Center.