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Spinning out with farm equipment

Winter is a time when trucks are often stuck on ice or packed snow. This is much different than being stuck in the mud and requires a bit of a change of perspective when it comes to getting them unstuck. Fast is slow — move slow, don’t lose more traction than you already have and prevent uncontrolled spins and overcorrections.

The first thing to consider is how fast a large piece of equipment can shift and move on ice. Never get close to a piece of equipment that is spinning on ice or packed snow. If the truck or piece of equipment gains traction with just one wheel it can move quickly in an unexpected direction, and if the driver over corrects it can move in surprising directions and at surprising speed.

If your driver gets stuck the first thing to do is keep them from spinning. This only adds to the ice and the slickness. See if they can gear down and move slowly. If you have a tractor with good traction then give them a steady push or pull with a tow rope and clevis.

If sand or other traction aids are being put near the tires have the operator stop while the work is being done. Prevent this by keeping your yard sanded as much as possible and have your drivers aware of the conditions ahead of time. Anything that tows a trailer, or two like a Super B, can slide in multiple directions

Being stuck in deep snow such as a drifted in driveway can offer its own challenges. This is one situation that is best avoided. Unless you are driving the equipment being used to move the snow out of the way, have your people stay away.

If a piece of equipment gets stuck in deep snow, first try to back up in your tracks. The closer to the entry point you can get the less work it will be to get you out, and the safer it will be.

If you are good and truly stuck, stop spinning. Exit the piece of equipment and see if you are pushing too much snow or are high centred. If you are pushing snow try shovelling or having the snow behind or ahead of you removed. If you are high centred clear an area in front or behind you, and carefully dig out around the tires, front and back. At no point should you crawl under or kneel under the bumper to dig out the centre areas. As you dig out the centre the equipment can suddenly shift and pin the operator. Clear a path and wait for a pull, following the safe pulling guidelines from pulling and towing from mud.

Another danger to consider is the temperature. If you are digging and hooking things up be sure not to get overly cold, remember the guidelines for working in cold temperatures. Rest, rehydrate, warm up and work at a steady pace to avoid sweating. Be sure that you have called or radioed to let someone know of your location if you are stuck on your own. In winter conditions never attempt to walk for help — stay warm, where you are expected to be.

In winter it is a good rule of thumb to not work alone, and if you are going to move equipment alone be sure to have a check in time and if it is missed that someone knows to come look for you. Don’t change your destination plans without letting someone know. It is better to wait for help than risk your safety by working alone unsafely.

About the author

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Shanyn Silinski is a writer, published author, speaker, rancher, farm wife, mom and agvocate. She loves working in agriculture, currently in primary production, and sharing about agriculture on social media. Find her on Twitter @MysticShanyn or on Facebook at Photos by Shanyn.

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