Being slick while avoiding slippery with smart snow removal plans

Mike Levin

Snow removal can be a costly investment that if done incorrectly, can actually increase the chances of slips and falls, cause damage to surfaces, landscaping and the environment, bury needed access portals and block vehicle driver views of pedestrians and oncoming traffic.

When using a snow blower or plow, be careful not to create snow piles that block pedestrian or driver views or paths, bury ground to underground utilities such as mains, or bury landscaping lights, bushes, or gardens. Piling snow across normally traveling paths or sidewalks can cause people to walk in areas they otherwise would not that put them in harm’s way from traffic, uneven surfaces, or snow and ice falling from rooftops.

If you own snow removal equipment such as walk behind snow blowers or a snow plow, make sure whoever operates the apparatus is well versed in safety aspects as well as operations. Blowing snow on or behind parked vehicles and blocking in tenants, shoppers or other visitors can cause further issues.

Using salts on surfaces can be an efficient way to melt ice and snow, but there are consequences that need to be considered. Excess salt can end up in the surrounding soil and cause damage to grass and other plants. Salt can attract animals that can end up in hazardous situations near roads. Salt can also be painful for pets in their paws. Also, salts will eventually leach metals that can invade the water supply.

None of these are desired results. If you must use salt, calcium chloride is better than potassium chloride and sodium chloride, which can contain cyanide. Rock salt should be applied at a handful per square yard. Blue Lighting, manufactured in Rochester, NY, is a good product that’s safer than most. Keep all salt you use to an absolute minimum and avoid it in areas where it will come into contact with plants and water runoff that could be accessed by animals.

The same rules apply for deicers. Sand, kitty litter, and bird seed or small grains spread on pedestrian areas do not melt ice and snow but will help increase foot traction.

Generally, the sooner snow is removed the better. Melting and refreezing can cause an ice buildup beneath the snow that is more difficult to remove. Make sure you have an onsite scout that can report the snow conditions and any dangerous situations to you during bad weather.

Secure contractors early as they are in high demand when the snow flies and may have a full schedule if you wait too long. If you have parking lots that will need plowing, you should have a contract with a snow removal service in place several months before winter. Make sure your contract allows you the right to contact another service if your party does not show or performs inadequately. For commercial properties where proper snow removal is critical, it’s better to pay your provider per occurrence rather than for the season as they may grow less attentive later in the season on heavy snow fall years.

Check the local laws in your area regarding snow removal before the snow season. Some municipalities require you to remove snow and in others you might be better off not. If an accident occurring from a snowfall, for example, is considered an act of God, you cannot be held liable. Conversely, if you remove the snow, and can be accused of negligence, you might be better off not removing snow or being absolutely sure the job was done right.