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Safe towing

tow truck

Photo: Cliffsman/iStock/Thinkstock

Providing roadside vehicle assistance can be fraught with hazards, particularly when towing is involved. To stay safe when performing such tasks, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety in Hamilton, Ontario, recommends the following:                                                                

  • Carry fuel in a labeled and approved portable container with a tight cap and pouring spout.
  • Keep gasoline and diesel fuels in separate containers.
  • When refueling a vehicle, maintain contact between the container and the filler opening.
  • Tow, rather than push, a vehicle when possible.
  • Before towing a vehicle, check the type of transmission and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for towing front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Be sure to use ample lights around the pick-up area. Avoid using flares in case of fuel leaks.
  • Turn on the flashers of the disabled vehicle.
  • Outfit service trucks with emergency equipment, warning signal devices, wheel chocks and a properly rated fire extinguisher.
  • Post the maximum hoisting capacity of the towing unit on the winch mast. Never remove or paint over information on the manufacturer’s data plate.
  • Do not exceed the towing capacity of the truck, or exceed the limits of the cables, chains or tow bar.
  • Leave at least three wraps of cable on the winch.
  • Operate hoist controls away from the wheel drum, travelling cables and sheaves.
  • Make sure wheel lifts extend far enough to have clearance when turning.
  • Be aware of electrical power lines when the boom is extended.
  • After a vehicle is rigged, double-check to make sure all cables are secure before driving.
  • Ensure locking pins are properly engaged.
  • Wear sturdy gloves to prevent cuts from cables and sharp objects.
  • Do not straddle the tow cable.
  • Do not work under a vehicle suspended by a tow truck. Place jack stands or blocking under the frame.
  • Wear high-visibility personal protective clothing, particularly in low-light or dark conditions.

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