Hazard Alert for All Snow Clearing Equipment

This is to further clarify a problem identified August 2004 in a previous hazard alert. Additional inspections by Occupational Health and Safety Officials have identified snow clearing equipment being operated in excess of manufacturer’s weight specifications. Both tandem and single axle vehicles with snow clearing equipment attachments have been known to exceed the manufacturer’s axle weight rating by several thousand kilograms on the front and/or rear axles.

No person shall at any time knowingly exceed the manufacturer’s weight specification, nor attach equipment that is not approved by the manufacturer. Note that some vehicles, with the plow in the up position, can exceed the manufacturer’s front axle weight rating, even when the vehicle is empty.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that no vehicle is operated in excess of the manufacturer’s axle weight ratings. This documentation is usually found on a sticker on the driver’s door post. If the sticker is not present, then you should immediately contact the manufacturer with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and request an immediate replacement. No vehicle shall be operated without a manufacturer’s sticker or written documentation from the manufacturer indicating the safe weight ratings of each axle, as well as the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR). See enclosed picture for an example of a manufacturer’s sticker.

You should also be aware that you are required to follow the Highway Traffic Act, as enforced by Highway Enforcement Officers, which contains more stringent regulations that will most often reduce the carrying capacity of the axles below the rating given on the manufacturer’s sticker. For more information on your vehicle axle weight ratings as required by the Highway Traffic Act, contact Service NL, Motor Registration Division.

Anyone operating snow-clearing equipment shall inspect their vehicle for a manufacturer’s sticker and develop written policies and procedures to safely operate the equipment within manufacturer’s weight specifications. At minimum, you should address the following issues in your policies and procedures: moisture content in ice control material: loading procedures; position of ice control material in box; size of loading equipment; maximum amount of ice control material; and safe operation of vehicle.

Owners are also reminded that the manufacturer’s weight specifications as indicated on the sticker are reflective of the equipment when it was new. Any replacement parts or modifications must meet original equipment specifications. Any part not meeting original equipment specifications could further reduce the axle weight rating of the vehicle.

Operating any vehicle outside of the manufacturer’s specifications without the manufacturer’s written permission can be very dangerous and can cause equipment to become unresponsive or even cause sudden failure.

During the upcoming months, the Occupational Health and Safety Division will be actively addressing this issue with private contractors and municipalities to ensure compliance with the manufacturer’s weight specifications.

For additional information, questions or concerns do not hesitate to contact one of the Occupational Health and Safety Branch Locations.