Heavy equipment can make a snow removal operation efficient and effective. The size of the equipment, however, lends itself to safety concerns. Following are tips to ensure operators put their safety first and then follow up to make sure the equipment is operated safely and cared for properly. If you are an employer, make sure that your workers understand all manufacturer warnings and instructions before operating. Train workers to use the following safe operating procedures:
- Always use three points of contact when entering and exiting machines.
- Be prepared for the cold. Dress appropriately by wearing layers of warm clothing.
- If you have items to bring in the cab, set them on the machine’s entry platform before climbing onto the machine, and secure them once inside the cab. Do not secure the items in a place that blocks ingress or egress.
- If you have items to take out of the cab, set them on the entry platform. Face the machine, properly dismount, and then grab the items while standing firmly on the ground.
- Never throw items onto the machine or into the cab.
- Avoid contact with machine controls when entering or exiting.
- Enter only when the bucket or other attachment is flat on the ground or when the lift-arm supports are in place.
- Never use foot or hand controls for steps or handholds.
- Keep the foot controls and the operator’s compartment free of mud, ice, snow and debris.
- Before leaving the operator’s seat, lower the bucket or other attachment flat to the ground; set the parking brake; turn off the engine; and remove the key from the ignition.
- Never throw any objects from the cab of your machine and never allow anyone to throw objects to you from the ground. Shut the machine down, and pass the object from person to person in a safe and controlled manner.
- Always perform a walk-around inspection of your machine and the site before operating.
- Use signs, reflectors and high-visibility clothing to warn oncoming traffic. Keep bystanders away from the work area.
- Do not push snow across open roads or streets, which could leave large debris in the way of traffic; icy conditions can make braking difficult.
- Remember that cars and pedestrians have the right of way.
- Never operate from outside the operator’s compartment. Remain seated with seat belt fastened and the restraint bar in place.
- When possible, plan to load, unload and turn on level ground.
- For maximum stability, travel and turn with the bucket in the lowest position possible.
- Never exceed the manufacturer’s recommended load capacity.
- Operate on stable surfaces only. Avoid traveling across slopes; travel straight up or down with the heavy end of the machine pointed uphill. Always face the direction of travel.
- Always test the back-up alarm before moving the machine.
- Sound your horn before backing up.
- If working in extreme conditions, maintain constant communications with other crew members to ensure safety.
- Never work on the machine with the engine running unless directed to do so by the operator’s manual.
- Before servicing, set the parking brake, lower all attachments to the ground, turn off engine and remove the key.