Some of the most common mistakes on the job come from crew members moving too quickly. It’s important to stop and take inventory of the situation, rather than reacting immediately. The same goes for entering and exiting machines. Often times, operators tend to move in a hurry or try to jump out and slip on ice. Machine operators should always take the time for three points of contact during mount and dismount to ensure safety.
One of the best strategies to prevent job site injuries is training and detection – do not wait until the snow has fallen to train your crew. Familiarize them with the job site layout in advance. That general lay-of-the-land knowledge will come in handy once the snow falls. It is impossible to know where curbs and other hazards are under deep snow. In terms of damage assessment, it’s helpful to check out the job site ahead of time to take photos and note any pre-existing damage to protect yourself in the event of any complaints after the job is done.
Another important way to prevent injury is to assess fatigue. If you’re exhausted or drowsy after several hours of operating, take a quick break to recharge. Learn to recognize the symptoms of fatigue as they impact the health and safety of you and those around you.
When dressing for the job, you want to make sure you’re warm and visible. High visibility personal protection equipment (PPE) for your climate is crucial, and don’t forget your hat, gloves and boots. You and your crew should be visible at all times with safety lights and vests.
If you’re out removing snow in a remote area and your machine breaks down, you want to make sure you’re dressed to survive the elements. Conditions like frostbite or hypothermia can be best avoided with the proper PPE.
It’s a best practice to end each shift with a machine walkaround to ensure it’s clear of snow and ice buildup. Cat® machines are equipped with serrated steel steps so that snow and ice residue can fall through. Check that your washer fluid doesn’t freeze so you can keep the windshield clean to maintain visibility and also check to make sure all the lights on the machine are fully functional.
Ensure your equipment is winterized if you’re in an especially cold climate. In many cases, fuel mixtures need to be changed throughout the season. Certain climates need heaters to keep machines from freezing during downtime. Understanding the harshness of the climate you’re in will help you with your regular maintenance checks.
At the end of each season, perform an equipment inspection sooner rather than later so that it’s fresh in your mind. You can go ahead and have it prepped and ready for the next big snow.
Use your Cat dealer as a resource for safety and new technology in the industry if you’re not already. Whether you’re an owner or an operator, check out safety.cat.com for training programs, e-learning coaching and consulting resources.
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