Snow and Ice removal requires a Winter Plan
This winter we have been dropped into a cold snap that has been accompanied by a consistent snowfall. When prolonged period of minus zero occur we often have to deal with ice build up on the rails. Ice and snow compacted into switches, frogs and crossing can be cause for accidents, near misses and derailments.
Ice can occur from snow being compressed and of course mud buildup that freezes when temperatures are cold. There are several things to consider in winter conditions. In this article we will take a look at safety precautions and recommendations for winter hazards.
Here are several great recommendations taken from the BC Safety Authority website
Winter brings snow and ice hazards which can cause derailments and near misses. Here are some tips to prevent incidents caused by winter weather conditions.
- Have a winter plan. Focus on important issues before the snow arrives. This should include inspecting and keeping track and walking areas free of debris and tripping hazards.
- Keep all switches clear of snow, ice and debris. This includes the area where crews stand to throw switches.
- Keep switch points clear of snow, ice and debris. Several derailments have been caused by ice and snow restricting the points from closing properly.
- Keep crossing flange ways clear of snow, ice and debris at all times. Vehicular traffic can compress and harden snow and ice in flange ways. This can cause a possible derailment from rail wheels riding up on hard, compact snow and ice as the rail equipment enters the crossing.
- Avoid creating close clearances when removing snow. Make sure right of way is wide enough to allow crew members to move about. Serious injuries can occur due to restricted clearances.
- Crews should be reminded daily of the hazards associated with the ever changing conditions.
- Watch for snow and ice that can slip from adjacent roof tops.
- Inspect your track area before being serviced by train crews and inform them of any hazards created by snow and ice build up.
- If heavy equipment is used for snow removal, ensure restricted clearance and derail signs have not been buried or run over.
- Derailments can result from derails and stop blocks that are not visible.
- Be aware of melting snow. Pools of water can create tripping hazards or ice conditions when it freezes.
- Allow more time for switching. Your crews and your service providers will require more time to do their job safely.
There are a several deicer and snow melting products on the market that are designed for commercial use. These include products used by municipalities and transportation departments and include Ice Free Switch by Midwest Industries, PolyMelt by Syntech Products and Cryotech’s CF7 amongst others.
Snow and Ice removal is a recommended practice for all railroad safety strategies. Look to your local authorities for more information on recommendations.