Risk Management: Snow Plow Safety

By Laura Peterson of OBGR

Snow removal is a part of almost every public entity operation – at least those located in cold weather climates. Keeping your public streets, sidewalks and parking lots clear of snow and ice throughout the winter is vital to reducing your risk for complaints and claims. Below are three reminders to keep your snow plow drivers prepared:

  1. Training:

All snow plow operators should be properly trained prior to snow season. Various training methods include classroom training, hands-on training, simulator training and computer-based training. The training should include knowledge of the equipment and snow routes. Being familiar with the equipment and routes does not only improve safety for the public, but can increase the longevity of the snow plow.

Have each driver travel their snow plow route in good weather conditions to reduce the risks involved with operating equipment in inclement weather. By doing so, drivers can become familiar with areas of high foot traffic, physical hazards, conditions that could cause an accident or areas that could damage the snow plow. Other areas of concern may be areas where there is not adequate clearance for the snow plow or intersections that have limited visibility. Although caution should always be used when driving a snow plow, extra caution may be needed in the areas listed above.

Consider enrolling your road crews in LocalGovU’s “Snow and Ice Management” course. If you are an active policy holder with OneBeacon Government Risks, this course may be complimentary.

  1. Snow Plow Inspections:

To avoid breakdowns and accidents, inspections of all snow plows before usage should be completed. Consider creating a checklist that can be used to inspect all snow plows before road use. This will allow you to perform any needed maintenance prior to a winter storm warning. For a sample checklist, view the Iowa State University Institute for Transportation Local Roads Maintenance Workers’ Manual – Appendix C.

  1. Driver Safety:

The operation of motor vehicles exposes your public entity to possible financial loss through damaged property, injury to employees and/or injury to members of the general public. This risk is increased when you introduce larger equipment into inclement weather creating poor driving conditions. So, in order mitigate some of the risk, ensure you adopt and implement a driver safety plan. See our Fleet Safety Guide, for a sample program that can easily be adapted specifically for snow plow drivers.

Tips for Drivers:

  • Come to work properly clothed.
  • Always get a good night’s rest before operating a vehicle.
  • If you begin to feel fatigued, take a break!
  • Never operate a snow plow while under the influence.
  • Drive with caution and choose an appropriate speed.
  • Be considerate of other motorists.
  • Obey all traffic laws.
  • Be brief when using the radio. Report all emergencies and/or stranded vehicles.
  • Avoid backing up unless absolutely necessary.
  • When exiting the snow plow, always set the brakes and turn the power to the machine off.

– See more at: http://blog.onebeacongov.com/2017/01/25/risk-management-snow-plow-safety/#sthash.6Z99HnMn.dpuf