Online column: Let's be careful out there...

One important part of our business during a storm is the one part that sometimes goes by the wayside during the middle of a storm – safety.

  • December 30, 2009
  • John Allin

One important part of our business during a storm is the one part that sometimes goes by the wayside during the middle of a storm – safety. Specifically the safety issues associated with our sidewalk crews. Often we preach safety during summer months, but when the storm is upon us we throw safety issues to the wind in favor of “getting it done”. Sidewalk crews come to mind first when we think about safety. Are your crews practicing safe techniques?

Is the equipment on the sidewalk crew’s truck strapped down so the load doesn’t shift when slip-sliding along the road? Are the crews properly dressed and outfitted for the elements? Warm gloves and layered clothes are needed. Do they know how to properly unload and reload the truck with the equipment they use? Have they been instructed on how to properly clear snow from sidewalks without hurting their backs? Have they been advised about proper methods of distributing deicing products on walks and stairs? Do they realize the dangers of cold weather and frostbite? I suspect most companies don’t pay too much mind to these important cogs in the wheel of our snow business lives.

As important as being properly outfitted do your crews understand their importance in the scheme of things? They are out in the elements working in horrendous conditions, dong a thankless job, for wages that are not commensurate with rocket scientists. They are professionals at what they do. Are you treating them like professionals, or are you treating them like grunts? Do they understand that customers rely on them, sometimes more so than the plowers. The work they do (or don’t do) is often what is noticed first by those who are going into and/or out of any business.

Remember, someone has to clear walks for our customers. You’re company is being paid to do so, and the crews doing the work should be treated like the godsend that they are. Otherwise, you may be out there doing that job. Yeah, you’ve done it before. But, do you want to do it full time – like they are?

Treat them with the respect they deserve. Say thank you to these guys once in a while. At minimum they deserve that.

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