December 15, 2021 Winter Safety

Do you know how to operate your Snowblower safely?

Snowblowers are an easy way to clear the winter snow from your property, but they also present dangers. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 4,000 emergency room injuries are each year associated with snow blowers. Most, if not all, of these injuries, could have been prevented. The most common cause for injury related to using a snowblower involves using one’s hands to clear the collector or auger after it has become clogged. Before operating the machine, you should always make sure that you have thoroughly read the manual and understand the operating procedures. This article will explore how you can operate your snowblower safely.

Learn how to safely operate your snowblower:

Make sure you:

  • Operate a unit only when there is good visibility and light. Falling snow, fog, etc., can reduce vision. 
  • Wear adequate winter outer garments and proper footwear to improve footing on slippery surfaces. 
  • Wear adequate safety gear, including safety goggles with side shields, appropriate hearing protection, and protective gloves. 
  • Are not feeling tired or sleepy while operating a snowblower. 
  • Use an approved fuel container. Fuel is highly flammable, and its vapors are explosive. Handle with care. 
  • Replace the fuel cap securely and clean up spilled fuel. 
  • Keep children and people away from the operating area. 
  • Clear area of operation of any unwanted objects and debris. Thrown objects such as small branches or rocks can cause injury or damage to the machine. 
  • Adjust runners to clear gravel or crushed rock surfaces safely. 
  • Disengage all clutches before starting an engine. 
  • Use only approved extension cords and receptacles when starting units equipped with an electric starter.
  • Are aware of traffic and pedestrians when operating along streets, curbs, or sidewalks. 
  • Walk, never run, during operation. 
  • Keep all movement on slopes slow and gradual. 
  • Use a slow speed to avoid stops or shifts on slopes. 
  • Always look down and behind before and while backing up with the machine. 

Things to Avoid:

  • Wearing loose clothing, scarves, jewelry, or anything that may get caught in rotating parts. 
  • Operating a unit during or after using medication, drugs, or alcohol. Safe operation requires your complete and unimpaired attention at all times. 
  • Smoking around the machine in case of sparks and open flames. 
  • Filling a fuel tank when an engine is running or when hot from operating. 
  • Connecting electric starter cord to any wiring system that is not a three-wire grounded system. 
  • Directing discharge toward persons. 
  • Leaving a running unit unattended. Permanently shut off the engine and remove the key before leaving a unit. 
  • Operating the snowblower on uneven or rough terrain. Be extra cautious while operating near dropoffs, ditches, or embankments. Units can suddenly turn over if a wheel is over the edge of a cliff or ditch or if an edge caves in. 
  • Do not start or stop the snowblower on a slope. 
  • Do not operate on steep slopes, clear snow across the face of slopes, or make sudden changes in speed or direction. 
  • Do not overload the machine capacity by attempting to clear snow at too fast a rate. 

Most Importantly!

NEVER use your hands or feet to clear the discharge chute or auger. Use the proper clearing tools. Typically, the clearing tool is a plastic stick used for safely clearing clogs in the discharge chute or auger housing. If necessary, use a wooden broom handle on models without the tool. Before cleaning or inspecting the snowblower: 1. Turn off the machine. 2. Remove the key. 3. Allow all moving parts to stop. 4. Allow hot parts to cool. 5. Remove the wire from the spark plug.

Want to Implement a Winterization Safety Program?

We provide all loss prevention services to policyholders and TPA clients at no additional cost.  Our dedicated staff of qualified loss prevention consultants and ergonomic specialists have significant years of experience in winter weather accident prevention. Each member understands current safety and health issues and their potential impact on Rhode Island employers. Let us help you. Contact us today!

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You can quickly and easily download free winter safety flyers in the Beacon Safety Library. Winter safety topics range from snow shoveling, snow blower, snow plow safety, to winter slip and fall, to so much more. Download your free flyers today.

Kurt Bodziony
Written by

Kurt Bodziony

Senior Loss Prevention & Ergonomic Consultant

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