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Safe loading of sidewalk snow equipment

  • SIMA
- Posted: October 26, 2016
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Managing a sidewalk snow removal crew can be challenging, no doubt. Labor issues, weather concerns, and customer expectations can all complicate the process. Often times, crews and people are bounced from one site to another, and Mother Nature doesn’t always leave a lot of time for thinking critically about safety in general.

One element in this process that can cause safety concerns relates to how sidewalk equipment is loaded/and unloaded from a vehicle. There is an innate risk in having an employee load a truck that is several feet off the ground with heavy or bulky equipment, and loose equipment like shovels can pose a significant risk to commuters surrounding a traveling vehicle.

Here are some tips for safe loading/unloading of sidewalk equipment into a pickup truck:

Loading snowblowers
First, ensure that the blower is in good working order and meets all pre-start safety checks. Second, utilize quality, dependable loading ramps and place them securely between the vehicle and the ground, ensuring that they sit level on all services and do not wobble or slide. Set the ground speed to the level designated by your supervisor or the owner’s manual, then push the traction lever to set the blower in motion. Guide the blower slowly up the ramps, and do not allow any portion of your body directly under the equipment. Work to position the blower so that it leaves as much visibility for the driver of the truck as possible.

Securing snowblowers
Once you have securely loaded the blower in the truck, kill all power and securely strap or tie the blower to the truck, ensuring that the blower cannot slide or shift during travel. At this point, also store and secure any loading ramps.

Loading shovels
Sometimes it’s easy to simply toss the shovel in the pickup or the flatbed and rely on gravity to do the work for you, but this can cause a significant hazard to anyone commuting near the vehicle on roads and especially highways. Instead, prior to going out for the season, take some time to plan out how your truck will be loaded, and define a space and a plan for snow shovel transportation. It is recommended in a flatbed that shovels be secured with quality latches in good working order. Other useful items to secure loose shovels/equipment are things like bed covers, cargo nets, and bungee cords. One final thought; never toss or throw shovels into a truck, it can cause damage to the vehicle and to the shovel, and creates a safety issue for anyone close by the vehicle.

View all 2016 Snow Safety week articles and content here.
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