Tim Tuma, president, Paw Paw Rentals, Paw Paw, Mich., is proud of never having a coldweather-related claim. “I want to keep it that way,” he says.
To do that and ensure his employees and customers stay safe when Mother Nature blankets his area with snow and ice, Tuma and his team stay vigilant. They watch the weather reports, prepare and actively stay on top of the situation.
The first step is taking care of his employees. “Every winter we buy insulated Carhartt jackets, hats and gloves for those who are outside loading and servicing equipment. For those inside, we offer nice warm hoodies. All our jackets and hoodies have our logo on them,” he says.
When the weather cools, Tuma and his wife, Lori, vice president, discuss cold-weather exposure during employee safety talks. “We remind everyone to wear their hats, gloves and ear protection. We also tell them that if it gets too bad, we just won’t work outside. We want everyone to be safe,” he says.
Because both his equipment and event rentals dramatically decrease during winter, Tuma and his team move two-thirds of their tables and chairs from the heated warehouse to enclosed trailers. That allows room to move his larger equipment into the heated warehouse, with some space left for loading and unloading some equipment. A backroom shop is used to safely service and maintain equipment.
While he’s never had to shovel snow off his roof during 32 years in business, he and his team have spent many hours snowplowing the parking lot and walkways.
“We have snow buckets and enclosed cabs on some of our skid steers. Two of our employees handle the snowplowing and salting. We put calcium chloride on the concrete areas and salt on the asphalt, making sure we put plenty around the downspouts, so no ice forms from any discharge,” he says.
To keep the store’s interior clean, they put a heavy anti-dirt mat on their front porch, which covers the main entryway. Customers kick any snow and ice off boots and shoes there and then walk on rubber-backed, carpeted aisle runners as soon as they enter.
Mats are replaced frequently and floors are mopped at least three times daily or more as needed. Safety signs keep everyone informed of possible slippery floors.
These actions have become a part of their regular workday, Tuma says. “You can’t make it a hit or miss thing. You have to make this what you do. It becomes a natural thing and everyone follows along.”