Preparing Your Snow Removal Crews For The Winter Season

Preparing to flip seasons from landscaping to snow and ice removal services is a daunting change for any business owner. There are many transferable skill sets between the seasons, but preparing new snow removal crew members for the winter months remains a challenge between the new conditions, work hours, hazards, and steps taken to avoid liability claims. We’ll walk through what your snow removal crews can expect for the upcoming winter season.

What A Typical Snow and Ice Removal Shift Looks Like

Landscaping jobs are easier for crew members to schedule because they know what the jobs are and how long they will take. The only weather considerations are if it’s too rainy or hot to work outdoors.

Snow and ice removal work is the exact opposite. Snow removal crews only work if it’s snowing or if they are prepping for an imminent snowfall. Your dispatcher should be monitoring weather conditions to help you determine whether you’re working, how much de-icing materials you’ll need, and provide job binders and relevant site info.

There’s more to the job than just shoveling snow. Managing the documentation and proof of work is a team effort ensuring the business has proper protection for any future liability claims. When hiring and developing your snow crew, make sure to emphasize the care and detail that needs to go into job site photos, paper trails of communication between the contractor, dispatcher, and client, and the checklists and processes documented with dates and times to refer to later if needed. The last thing you need is a contractor scraping together papers from the floor of their truck trying to clean the boot prints off the job folder, receipts, and documentation.

Snow removal crews can expect to be on-call for 2AM shifts in snowy dark conditions with cold temperatures. You’ll need to layer up whether you’re plowing in the truck all night or going out to shovel walkways. Winter crew members are difficult to retain given the unpredictable work, dangerous conditions, and the need for vehicle operators during a time when labor is hard to come by.

Recommended Greenius Courses:

• Winter Patrol and Site Inspection

• Winter Site Prep

Why Snow Removal Crew Safety Matters

Snowy conditions can be harmful to even the most experienced snow removal contractors. Around 76,000 people get injured in traffic accidents during sleet or snowfall every winter, and it’s up to snow and ice removal crews to help create safe and drivable roads during winter weather conditions. Managing snow and ice removal is one thing, but to do it safely requires training, knowhow, and mental preparedness to deal with the stressful weather.

Skills can be developed to learn how to drive safely and defensively in extreme winter conditions. Developing a rigorous training program for your snow crews will help keep them safe and able to continue fulfilling contracts that your business is liable for. This will help protect your crew from blowing and drifting snow, poor visibility conditions, black ice on roads, and other drivers not well equipped to handle winter driving.

Understanding and using proper techniques for snow removal, specifically shoveling, will ensure the crew longevity. It’s easy to put your back into it, but even easier to injure yourself with improper technique and impatience. No matter how intuitive shoveling snow may seem, it’s important to know how to keep your body in check when you or your crew is shoveling for a career.

Recommended Greenius Courses:

• Winter Walkways

• Defensive Snow Plow Driving

• Snow Plowing Safety and Prep

What Winter Clothing Your Snow Removal Crews Should Wear

There’s more to snow and removal than just the job, training, and winter tools and equipment. Winter personal protective equipment (PPE) matters. Knowing what to wear for a shift on a snow removal crew will keep you in good health and comfortable in freezing temperatures. Dressing in layers acts as winter PPE and can help you manage how your body is feeling in the fluctuating temperatures between the bitter cold of outside and the warmth of your work truck. Winter hats are a must to help regulate your body temperature. 

Finally, keeping your hands safe with proper winter PPE gear will help prevent frostbite. Crew members should wear two layers of gloves especially on the coldest winter days. Invest in proper winter glove liners, as they will give your crew the freedom of adapting with the time of day and temperature changes.

Recommended Greenius Courses:

• Working In Cold Weather

Stay Informed Of All Winter Weather Hazards

Preparing your snow removal crews for the winter season is a continuous process across the months to keep work both safe and efficient. Educate your snow removal crews through winter hazard safety talks, otherwise known as Tailgate Talks. Taking the 10-15 minutes to engage your snow crews in meaningful discussion around winter safety will improve safe winter tools and equipment operation, and reduce workplace injuries throughout the season.

Greenius has an extensive library of Tailgate Talks to help you or your senior crew members lead winter safety discussions. Reach out to one of our Greenius experts to learn how to access these Tailgate Talks and get started on your company’s path to safer work.