What to look out for in snowblower safety

Posted by peter main on October 6th, 2019

For many people, a snow blower can be a lifeline, but there are some risks and hazards which need to be flagged up. These can be easily dealt with, but they are important and often overlooked.

Buying a snowblower is often thought of as similar to buying a garden mower or small compact tractor. As such, basic safety rules apply in that many snow blowers are used in domestic settings, either on small land holdings, gardens or small businesses such as garden centres. In all of these cases there will be other people around, including children, and it is imperative that the operator of the snowblower has an awareness of the potential dangers to these people.

The main purpose of a snowblower is to effectively hoover up snow from the ground, and discharge it by way of a chute into some other area of land where it will not be a nuisance. One of the things that often happens with a snowblower is that the snow clogs and becomes impacted within the machine.

The tendency most people have is to turn the snowblower off, wait a few seconds and then try to clear the impacted snow from around the blades of the snowblower. This is fine as long as long as someone uses something like a stick or a piece of wood.

Where it becomes dangerous is when someone uses their hand or any part of their body to try and clear the snow. This is because even though the snow blower has turned off, the blades continue to turn for quite a while after she has stopped, and if anyone puts their hand near them at this time, it can result in serious injury and possibly permanent amputation of someone's limbs.

The correct procedure is as follows. If possible try and use  a snowblower several times a day in order to clear snow that is really heavy or wet, or where it has been falling for several days and has not been cleared. This makes it less likely to clog up in the machine. If it does clog up, wait a few minutes after turning off, and then use a stick or a broom handle to try and clear the snow. At the same time, keep all safety shields in place, and never put your hand or any part of your body into the snowblower itself.  This applies both to the blades, the chute and any other part of the operating machinery.

The other thing to watch out for with a snowblower is a possible buildup of carbon monoxide. While snow blowers are mainly used outside, they are often started up and sometimes left to run in a confined space, such as a garage or outside building. This can potentially be really dangerous, and it is always best to start them and leave them running outside where ever possible.

If for any reason they started and left to run in a confined space, then it is absolutely crucial that there is  significant ventilation in the area where the machine is running, as there wel a build up of carbon monoxide in the confined area.

Other things to consider when using a snowblower are really common sense. Whoever operates it should be of an age where they are able to recognise potential dangers, such as children or adults in the vicinity, potential damage on the ground underneath the snow, and mature enough to be fully aware of the fact that they should know not to put any part of their body in any part of the machinery of the snowblower.

It is also very important to read the operator's manual before using the snowblower. Often a manual is thought of as just being something that the manufacturer puts in place because they have to. Whilst this is true to an extent, the manual should not just be used as a point of reference when something goes wrong. For a snowblower it will contain fairly basic safety information, which should always be followed, and which is often critical to an individual's well-being and health, and will also ensure the maintenance and well-being of the machine itself, and they sure that it runs effectively for as long as possible.

Peter Main is a freelance writer who writes extensively about tractors and snowblowers, with a particular on manufacturers such as Kubota, and the importance of snowblower safety when looking to buy or lease any piece of machinery.

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peter main
Joined: April 8th, 2019
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