Take a Bite Out of Risk Management This Snow Season

Kanon Kulpa

As a snow and ice management company, you and your crews have a lot riding on your ability to reduce risk.

You work in the worst conditions at night, deal with other drivers on the road, and you have the pressure to make sure everything is cleared off by 7 a.m. the next morning.

The last thing you want to deal with when the storm moves out is a cranky property manager who just got a slip and fall case.

6 Risk Management Factors

There are six risk management factors that commercial snow and ice management companies deal with every winter:

  1. Freeze and thaw: The classic winter problem. You clean off the lot of a retail center only for the sun to come out the next day. The sun melts the snow only for the slush and water to refreeze overnight. If a customer or even an employee slips and breaks an ankle, the property manager may try to place the blame on you.
  1. Building design flaws: When you do a pre-season visit, do you ever look up? Don’t worry if you don’t because most people are looking straight ahead or downward for typical property flaws. However, those canopies above a store or hospital entrance can bring down melted snow that will refreeze on the sidewalk overnight. You can remind your property manager that poorly designed canopies can cause a slip and fall case days after a snow event.
  2. Improved economy: Well, this “problem” doesn’t occur every year. In 2018, though, an improved economy has some detractors for the upcoming winter. More money in people’s wallets means they want to venture out in the cold more often to beat cabin fever. Restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment venues all open the possibility for more slip and fall, pedestrian and vehicle, and vehicle to vehicle accidents.

Just in time for snow plow buying season, here are three tips for picking the right snowplow.

  1. Pedestrian and vehicle accidents: Freeze and thaw cycles also put folks in danger of being hit by cars. If a driver slams on her brakes and her car continues to slide for an extra 15 feet before stopping, she could hit the person she was trying to avoid.
  2. Vehicle to vehicle accidents: Conversely, cars can slam into each other in the parking lot resulting in damage and injuries. Granted, most drivers may be more cautious right after a snowstorm, but others may be impatient to be on their way. A patch of ice can cause a lot of problems in just a few minutes.

So, what should a snow removal company do? Educate your property managers, so you’re on the same page when it comes to risk management and responsibility.

Educate Your Property Managers on Risk Management

Your clients are busy, and winter storms are stressful for them as well as you. Plus, they oversee a property and probably don’t want to know the minutiae of getting rid of snow and ice.

But you need to educate them to lower your risk of being sued. The more the property managers know about your snow removal processes, the more they can proactively work with you to avoid slip and fall or other accidents in the wintertime.

Here are some ways to educate your snow and ice clients:

  1. Stand firm on pre-season visits: Pre-season visits are vital to determine where snow melting could cause a slip and fall incident. It’s also a time to take note of damaged areas and unique paving that may need a particular way of removing snow. As the snow pusher, you need to look up to see roofing situations that could lead to a freeze/thaw situation on the ground. Plus, it’s your responsibility to make the property manager aware of the potential danger of slick spots.
  1. Agree to a treatment plan: As part of your treatment plan, make your suggestions for anti-icing and abrasives to keep melting snow from re-freezing on parking lot and sidewalks overnight.
  1. Decide where to stockpile snow: Where do you dump the snow that you’re plowing? It should be a pile that won’t cause water to run through areas where people are driving and walking.

How many parking lots can you clean by 7 a.m.?

  1. Plow cut and bank: Don’t allow your crew to cut and bank in the parking lot. This forces drivers to park further out of their spaces causing the potential for a car accident.
  1. Ask for better lighting: Do the lights on the parking lots shine brightly? What about along the storefronts? If there are lights out, make sure you remind the property manager to get them repaired. Well-lit areas let patrons know where snow and ice are on the pavement.

 Use traffic cones during the busy times of the day: Did a snowstorm stop before the 5 p.m. rush hour? Remind your property manager that you’ll be using traffic cones during the busiest times of day when you’re removing snow from parking lots and sidewalks.

How Snow Wolf Can Help You Remove Snow This Winter

At Snow Wolf, we have the snowplows, pushers and blowers that get the job done so you can add more properties to your customer list.

Our autowing plows take pushing snow to the next level. We have two autowing plows:

Our snowplows include

If you’re looking to add to your fleet, call us today at 1-800-905-2265 or fill out our contact form.

Sources:

Mehchlor, George, “Winter’s a Game of Risk.”

Pereira, Julius III, “Risk Management.”