Safety should never be optional in your snow and ice management company. If you take the time in the pre-season to institute safety standards and to train your new hires on properly handling equipment in the middle of a blizzard, you’ll find that this snow season will go smoother.
Even though you may be busy wrapping up the growing season or working on your snow equipment, you need to take the time to train all of your snow crews on proper equipment safety, how to operate equipment correctly, and how to stay warm and healthy.
Why You Must Train Your Snow Crews during Pre-Season
One way to keep your workers’ compensation claims low is through training. Experience modification, also known as the Mod Factor, is a tool insurance agencies use to rate your company’s safety and risk.
The lower your Mod Factor, the better for you. Yet, if you file a claim for one of your employees, you’ll be penalized with higher premiums because your experience modification went up instead of down.
Here are seven ways to keep your Mod Factor low courtesy of SIMA:
- Make sure your equipment is in good repair, so it’s safe to use.
- Develop a safety training program that’s mandatory for all new employees.
- Don’t sit on a claim. Get it reported immediately.
- Set safety goals for your crew members and make sure they reach them.
- Schedule regular meetings with your employees to discuss safety protocol.
- Prevent accidents by not hiring accident-prone employees.
- If one of your employees gets hurt on the job, provide light duty for them to get them back to work quickly.
Safety training is critical for keeping your modification number on the low side. Contact your insurance company’s risk management department to talk in-depth about your policy and Mod Factor.
Don’t Forget to Remind Crews about Personal Protective Equipment
According to SIMA, personal protective equipment and uniforms are part of your company’s safety procedures. You can determine what you’ll provide for your employees and what they need to purchase.
If you buy PPE for your employees, you’ll need someone to keep track of inventory as well as returning the gear at the end of the season. How you implement your PPE standards is up to you, but all your workers should see and hear the PPE expectations.
For example, you want to talk about correct PPE while out on the job during one of your tailgate meetings. You also want to put PPE standards in writing and post it on a bulletin board, as well as include it in your safety manuals.
Examples of personal protective equipment include:
- Water-proof gloves, hats and layered outwear
- Gloves for multiple jobs, such as working with chemicals, chains, and binders
- Waterproof footwear
- A reflective vest or a jacket with reflective material
- Eye protection for handling chemicals
- Hearing protection for working with snow blowers
- Extra gear for the employee who came unprepared for working in winter weather
Training Your Snow and Ice Management Teams for Safety
Not only do you want to avoid expensive insurance claims, but you also need your snow crews to exercise safety around equipment. Too much horsing around on ATVs, plows, and skid steers can produce a lot of problems—including costly machine repairs.
Again, SIMA suggests firing employees who don’t take safety seriously as well as avoiding hiring folks who have an accident-prone reputation.
Here are some more tips from Facilitiesnet.com to decrease accidents and other problems during a long snowstorm:
- Make sure you train everyone on your crews—both old-timers and new hires—on safety updates.
Have your experienced snow employees partner with new hires to train them on how to operate and maintain your snow equipment. Remember to have your new hires practice, practice, practice so that equipment operation and maintenance become secondhand to them.
- Teach your employees how to avoid injuring themselves by showing them (and having them practice) the right way to lift heavy bags of salt and sand as well as how to shovel snow.
- Train your new hires safety tips when using snow blowers and what to do when snow builds up inside them. Your crew members shouldn’t be using a stick or anything else to loosen up snow.
- Train your crews on how to operate safely a skid steer, plow, trucks, and any other machinery they may use on the job. And have them practice using this equipment in the pre-season. Teach your new hires how to safely remove snow stuck in a snow blower.
- Train your snowplow drivers efficient plowing techniques so they avoid property damage and can work efficiently.
- Demonstrate how to handle spreaders, such as pointing out potential pinch areas or where clothes can be caught in spinning parts.
- Design an obstacle course for your snowplow drivers to practice on to gain confidence and adjust how to maneuver their trucks during a snow event. Your state’s DOT usually has obstacle courses for their drivers.
- While on the obstacle course, teach your snowplow drivers how to stack snow correctly and how to avoid damaging the client’s property.
- Train your operators on how to use deicing and anti-icing products. During the training, remind your crews to wear goggles and gloves when filling up a tailgate salt spreader.
Also, train your deicing operators on how to get the right amount of deicer needed to do the job without causing damage to lawns and landscapes.
- Train your snow crews on how to recognize potential health risks in their fellow crew members, such as signs of heart attack, frostbite, hypothermia, dehydration, and over-exhaustion. Consider a first aid class or CPR training for your crew leaders.
How SnowWolf Helps Your Crews Get More Done in Less Time
If you’re a snow and ice contractor, you can easily teach your new hires how to use SnowWolf snowplow equipment and accessories. Your crews will find that SnowWolf plows are efficient, and you can clear more parking lots in less time.
Be prepared this winter for the snow coming your way. Get your SnowWolf snow removal equipment and accessories today by visiting your local SnowWolf dealer.
You can also call our customer service at 1-800-905-2265 or fill out our contact form.