Mike Pihaylic
Equipment Operator for Public Works Department

While the rest of the world is nestled in their beds, tucked away from the snow and cold, I strap on my boots, bundle up my coat and punch the clock for another long day at work. I’m an equipment operator for my city’s Public Works Department. My team and I are responsible for road maintenance and snow removal, regardless of the weather conditions or time of day.

During the winter months I’m on call 24/7. This includes early morning starts, extended hours and weekend duties, often on the holidays. This past winter my department logged a record-breaking 300-400 overtime hours to account for the excessive snow fall. With the recent job and budget cuts affecting my department this often means working 12-16 hour shifts.

Clearing the snow for an entire town is a big enough job. But without the proper lighting it’s extremely difficult. Unfortunately, my snow plow is not equipped with the best lighting, so performing my job efficiently and safely is a challenge. I can tell dim light bulbs cause me to strain my eyes to see and maneuver around obstacles like parked cars and mailboxes. I already have to frequently stop and clean off the front of my plow given the snow that gets kicked up and packed onto my front headlights. This all contributes to the amount of fatigue I feel at the end of my shift.

My job isn’t always strenuous. One time, my partner and I experimented with hooking up LED bulbs to our plow. Boy, did that make a difference! It was like working during daylight. There is no better feeling than when a big storm finally settles and you don’t have to work at such a feverish pace. I find it relaxing even. Just me, the plow and a big blanket of snow.