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By Dave Lubach, Associate Editor
Grounds Management Article Use Policy
Fuel consumption and equipment maintenance rank among the most costly — and essential — aspects of snow and ice management at institutional and commercial facilities. Grounds and landscape managers who train mechanics and equipment operators to focus on conserving fuel and performing routine maintenance tasks can help departments achieve the overall goal of a more efficient snow and ice removal program.
But training is too often an overlooked aspect of snow and ice management.
“When I go in and review the snow response for an in-house staff, one of the things I tell them is that we’ll take a guy who is cutting grass with a 52-inch walk-behind mower, and they’ll spend all day teaching him how to operate that equipment safely so he doesn’t cut his feet off,” says John Allin, a snow and ice management consultant with John Allin Consulting in Erie, Penn. “But when it snows, you overload the truck with 1,800 to 2,000 pounds of steel hanging off the front end, you put another 2,000 pounds of steel in the bed of the truck and load it with 3,000 pounds of salt, and in the middle of the night you hand the keys to a guy and say, ‘Get in the truck,’ and the extent of the training is ‘Don’t hit a curb.’
“I think it’s a disservice to the equipment, to the facility, and to the operator to send a guy out like that without any training.”
When he operated his own snow-removal business, Allin trained his employees on proper shoveling techniques to prevent injuries and lawsuits.
“If you use a shovel to clear sidewalks, it’s a workman’s comp claim waiting to happen, because guys don’t know how to lift up snow,” he says.
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