Safety First During Snow Removal

Snow environments present different hazards for employees; make sure equipment is set up properly and drivers are operating with safety in mind

'Make sure you have your truck set up right in terms of safety: flashing lights, strobe lights, etc. because you're out plowing at night time,' says Zeke Zinchiak of ZCon Inc.
"Make sure you have your truck set up right in terms of safety: flashing lights, strobe lights, etc. because you're out plowing at night time," says Zeke Zinchiak of ZCon Inc.

One way to keep your employees working and money flowing during seasonal construction slowdowns is to offer snow removal services. But snow presents a different set of hazards from a typical construction jobsite.

The number one concern when adding snow handling to your construction company's services should be safety.

"You have to be careful when you're plowing. You have to be safe," says Zeke Zinchiak of ZCon Inc., primarily a Woodbine, Md., concrete contractor. 

Safety first

While ZCon doesn't do any special training for its snow handling operators, Zinchiak says it's important that your drivers know how to operate the equipment properly and safely. Make sure your employees know how to drive safely in snow, whether they are plowing a parking lot or driving to the site. "You want to make sure you have qualified drivers," Zinchiak says.

Safe drivers are likely to take better care of the equipment, which is especially important if you're using the trucks and construction equipment year round and need it to last.

Zinchiak emphasizes that it takes effort to make sure your trucks and equipment are ready before the snow flies.

"Make sure you have your truck set up right in terms of safety: flashing lights, strobe lights, etc. because you're out plowing at night time – especially if you're in parking lots and you've got people driving around; you've got to be careful," Zinchiak says.

Snow Plow Preperation Maintenance Safety

12 Tips for Preparing Your Snow Plow For Winter

Get insured

Even the safest operators with properly set up equipment get into accidents in the snow. Zinchiak's advises contractors "make sure you have insurance."

What types of coverage should you consider?

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability. Covers your legal liability for an accident in which there is damage or injury to someone else.
  • Collision and comprehensive. Helps cover the costs of repairs and replacement if vehicles are damaged in an accident or stolen – regardless of who is at fault.
  • Uninsured motorists bodily injury and property damage. This covers medical treatment and damage to your vehicle caused by someone without insurance.
  • Equipment coverage. Helps cover costs of repairing or replacing damaged equipment.

"Find out from your agent or insurer what's covered under you policy, and add extra endorsements as needed," says Ken Bowman, Progressive Commercial Auto Product Manager.

For example, some vehicle insurance companies will only extend coverage to drivers who are specifically named on the policy. Make sure your insurer allows "permissive use," which means that all of your drivers are covered as long as they have your permission to operate the vehicle.

Vehicle Insurance Myths, Debunked

Here are some additional questions Bowman suggests asking insurance companies to be sure your business is properly insured:

  • Can/will the insurance company cover your company year round?
  • What expertise does the company have insuring heavy vehicles as well as pickup trucks?
  • What is the carrier's experience in covering municipal and residential snow removal?
  • How are claims handled? Is 24/7 claims service for light and heavy vehicles available?

Take care of business

You might already have most of the equipment and willing manpower to start a snow-removal business, but make sure you consider the business end as carefully as your construction services.

How to Plan for Snow Removal Business

ZCon gets its plow work subcontracting to a local landscape company.

Zinchiak says the benefit of being a plowing subcontractor is that the landscape company already has relationships with the customers and may already have a contract so ZCon doesn't have to go find the work.

Snow handling equipment

Here's a list of just some of the snow handling products available to the construction market. Check out the Snow Handling Equipment category on the FCP Buyers' Guide for even more products and equipment.

Heavy-Duty Snow Blades from Bobcat Co. - Doosan Infracore

7-ft. 6-in. Power-V XT Plow from Boss Snowplow

B-8 & B-10 Box Plows from Boss Snowplow

ST7 Skid Steer Snow Blower from Brown Bear Corporation

SnowDogg VMD Series V-Plow from Buyers Products Co.

EDGE Oscillating Snow Push from CEAttachments

Snow Plow Attachment from CJJ Inc.

Clamp-On Snow Blades from Earth & Turf Products, LLC

Big Ox Skid Steer Snowplow from Hiniker Co. Inc.

Kage System from kage Innovation LLC

25 Series Snow Blower Attachment from Land Pride

Snow Blowers for Skid Steers & Tractors from Loftness Specialized Equipment

Lot Pro Snowplow from Meyer Products Inc.

FFC V-Blade from Paladin Construction Group

JRB Snow Pusher from Paladin Construction Group

Snow Edge from Rachet Rake LLC

SND580 Snowmelter from Snow Dragon Snowmelters

26R Plow from Sno-Way Int'l. Inc.

500 Series WolfPaws from SnowWolf

Alpha Snow Pusher from SnowWolf

SnowEx SuperMaxx Series Spreader from TrynEx International

HB580 Power Broom from Ventrac by Venture Products, Inc.

SitePro SBS Series Skid Steer Snow Blades from Worksaver Inc.