Preparation and safety practices – essential to minimize winter risks

Living in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, which is in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, owner Walt Grimes, Fayette Rental Solutions, knows winters can be treacherous. That’s why he’s a follower of preparedness and safety protocols.

“Weather can hit us hard, especially from January to early March. During that time, we usually get a two- or three-week stretch where it’s pretty awful — sub-zero temperatures,” says Grimes, who is vice president of the Pennsylvania ARA. “If we get a catastrophic amount of snow, my phone rings non-stop, so we have to be prepared.”

It starts with the equipment

  • Do winter maintenance. “That’s a big part of what we do, using fuel stabilizers and the right coolants for the machines to eliminate any equipment failure,” he says.
  • Arrange equipment rental. Along with getting all the equipment and delivery trucks ready, Grimes makes sure they have a wide variety of generators and heaters. “Mobile homes are popular here, so a lot of lines break and freeze. We talk with our customers about carbon monoxide, different fuels the heaters can use, etc.,” says Grimes.

Because two neighboring counties depend on its county’s water source, Grimes has two unique winter rentals. “When the ice gets thick on the river they can’t get in, so we bring in the air compressors to keep the water from freezing and clogging the inlets for filtration and use the hot water pressure washers to provide warm suits for scuba divers,” he says.

Prepare staff

  • Have appropriate clothing. Grimes provides heated jackets, sub-zero gloves and boots for his 25-person team.
  • Review safe lifting techniques and prevention of slips and falls. “We review that at the start of the season,” he said.
  • Provide practical winter driving techniques. Grimes’ team has completed American Rental Association (ARA) Box Truck training and spends time discussing safe winter driving techniques. He and his son have their commercial driver’s license. “We take the guys on trips and accompany some of them on deliveries. The weather may be okay here, but we are at the foot of a mountain. In a five-minute drive, you can change elevation by 2,500 feet,” he says.

Ensure the facility is safe for employees and customers

  • Take off the snow. “We have a lot of salt and ice guard. We strive to keep the parking lot very clean and safe for everyone,” says Grimes, adding that the same goes for the roof to prevent heavy snow accumulation and ice jams.
  • Prevent slips and falls indoors. “Keeping the inside of the building safe with mats, mops, signage and the like is everyone’s responsibility,” he says.

This strategy worked. He has not had a winter slip-and-fall accident or a workers’ compensation claim. “We do as much maintenance as possible, as carefully as possible, and see everything from our customers’ perspective,” he says.

Connie Lannan

Connie Lannan is Special Projects Editor for Rental Management. She helps plan, coordinate, write and edit the ARA’s quarterly regional newsletters, In Your Region. She also researches, writes and edits news and feature articles for Rental Management, Rental Pulse, supplements, special reports and other special projects. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking for others, going for walks with her husband, and volunteering for her church and the causes she believes in.

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