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It is vitally important to practice BSP – Best Safety Practices – in all aspects of your power sweeping business. One area that might be easy to overlook is how to be safe during the unloading of any type of rake-out or low-dump sweeper. This can and usually is a dusty procedure, and it is important to remember that what you’re unloading is not ordinary house-type dust. Rather, it is material that has been on the ground and which potentially has all types of additives that might have gotten into it.Kris Drake, of Drake’s Services in Burlington, Washington, knows first-hand what can happen.
The company has had TYMCO and Elgin chassis-mounted sweepers in its (primarily) parking area sweeping business, as well as a Schwarze-built AATACH sweeper that mounted into the bed of a pickup truck. However, says Drake, the best unit for their particular way of doing business has been the venerable Schwarze PV-II, trailer-mounted unit shown in the photo to the right.
“The PV-II is not much for looks, but it won’t stop working,” said Drake. “Trailers are cheaper for insurance, and are actually able to turn a profit now that it isn’t all going towards insurance. We bought it used. It’s a ’94 model, I think.”
Drake went on to say that he didn’t start out taking the correct precautions when emptying the hopper, which must be done by hand via use of a rake and/or shovel. However, when he realized the particulate-laden dust had made him sick more than once, his casual attitude changed. “I got sick a few times after raking out and breathing in all that crap,” he said. “Now I take great precautions not to breathe in dirt particles and get that stuff in my eyes.”
For this article I contacted the maker of the sweeper shown, Schwarze Industries, Inc. This model of sweeper is now called the “SuperVac Aero.” Here’s what the company recommends when emptying the hopper:
“If using a dumpster, back your SuperVac Aero up close to the dumpster. Turn off the auxiliary engine. Open the rear doors, using the rod to prop hold open the top door. Use a shovel to scoop the debris out and place it into the dumpster. Continue until hopper is empty.
Note: Specialized protective equipment may be required if dangerous or hazardous material is being swept by or emptied from the sweeper.“
If you are not ensuring you and your employees utilize a mask and eye protection when emptying any type of rake-out hopper, we encourage you to use this article as the catalyst to do so. This is one area where it’s easy to prevent a health problem from occurring.