Snowplow operators: Make sure you know the rail safety rules

As Canadians, we depend on snowplows. During the winter months, snowplow operators clear the roads so that we can safely get where we’re going.  But it’s also important that those operators consider their own safety—especially when working near or around railway tracks.

In January 2018, a London, Ont. snowplow operator was tragically killed when a freight train slammed into the sidewalk plow he was driving. A Transportation Safety Board report looking into his death found that the operator was focused on clearing the snow and not looking for approaching trains. It also stated that he hadn’t been given the necessary training on how to safely clear snow at railway crossings.
Brush up on the rail safety basics
Whether you operate a snowplow, a road grader or do other work maintaining municipal infrastructure, working near railway crossings and tracks can be incredibly risky—if you don’t know your rail safety rules. Follow these important tips to stay safe, and share them with your colleagues—it could save a life.
  • Be prepared to stop at all railway crossings
  • Stop the plow no closer than five metres from the nearest rail
  • Raise the plow blade and wing, or other attachment, high enough to clear the tracks and signals
  • Don’t proceed through a crossing unless you have a clear view of the tracks and are sure no trains are approaching from either direction, on any track—especially at crossings with no flashing lights, bell or gates
  • Never park your equipment on or walk along railway tracks
  • Always contact the railway before performing work close to a rail crossing or tracks
  • Get out of your vehicle right away if your equipment stalls or gets struck at a crossing, and move at least 30 metres away from the tracks
  • Report any dangerous condition at railway tracks directly to the railway company or by calling 911
If you’re a snowplow operator please make rail safety a priority as you go about your job this winter. Remember to always: Look. Listen. Live!