Attention snowplow operators! Don’t forget to refresh your rail safety!

As Canadians, who are assaulted annually by Old Man Winter’s wrath, we have come to truly appreciate our snowplow operators. 

When we’re taking our chances on the roads after a heavy snowfall, nothing is quite as welcoming as the flashing lights warning slowplows ahead. We rely on snowplow operators to clear a safe path for us to get to our destinations – and this includes the highway-railway crossings we encounter.

While we always encourage drivers, new and seasoned, to keep their rail safety knowledge current, the same goes for snowplow operators. Operation Lifesaver has captured some savvy snowplow rail safety tips so that operators can stay up to speed and ensure they’re staying rail safe while clearing a path for motorists. 

Check out this quick snapshot of snowplow operator safety tips:

Approaching a crossing

Remember: Special caution is required at these crossing to protect the operator, motorist, the railway and its employees.

  • If required, stop the plow before reaching  the crossing no closer than five (5) metres from the nearest rail;
  • Before resuming, make sure there is enough room on the other side for the whole unit to clear the tracks, including your vehicle’s overhang. Know the length of your vehicle! Remember, the train will be at least a metre wider than the rails on both sides;
  • Raise the plow blade and wing or other attachments high enough to clear the tracks and signals;
  • Be especially careful at crossings without gates, flashing lights or bell. Even if there are active warning signals, and they do not indicate a train is approaching, you must look and listen to be sure it is safe to proceed.

Snow, salt and chemicals near crossings

Remember: Avoid piling snow on or near railway crossings. Windrows must be kept to a minimum as they reduce visibility at crossings and may be hit by a passing train.

  • Do not pile snow under gate arms or mechanisms. This may result in the malfunction of railway signal equipment;
  • When possible, do not pile snow on access roads parallel and adjacent to the tracks;
  • To prevent sand from being carried onto the tracks, ensure sand is not applied within three (3) metres of railway crossing tracks;
  •  To prevent a build-up at the crossing, which could contribute to derailments, avoid or limit the use of abrasives at railway crossings.

These are just some of the quick tips available for snowplow operators on Operation Lifesaver’s website, where there are many free resources available with just the click of a button.

If you’re a snowplow operator please make rail safety a priority as you go about your job this winter. And remember to always: Look, Listen, Live!

Stay rail safe this winter and always!

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