WEB EXCLUSIVE: Winter Weather Prep

This Web Exclusive article is contributed by Phill Sexton, director of education & outreach for the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), a trade association for snow and ice industry professionals.

Facility managers (fms) in regions that get snow and ice have higher levels of risk and liability during the winter months. Knowing how to assess and reduce risk may be a challenge when there is no required education or regulations for the snow and ice management industry.web exclusive

SIMA has developed a proactive way for fms to reduce their risk and liability and improve the planning process for the 2013-2014 winter. SIMA’s Best Practices Checklist offers standardized guidelines relevant to fms who are responsible for creating a snow and ice management plan. These guidelines are relevant whether in-house staff members do the work, or if it’s outsourced to a service provider or vendor.

Key Performance Criteria (KPCs)
SIMA’s guidelines use Key Performance Criteria (KPCs) to measure the effectiveness of a snow and ice management plan. Similar to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), KPCs vary somewhat from KPIs because snow and ice management performance criteria may be very difficult or, in some cases, impossible to measure.Where KPIs may be measured on a numerical scale, typically, KPCs are a pass/fail measurement.

For snow and ice, it’s quite simple—either you are meeting the criteria, or you are not. When assessing the snow and ice management plan, KPCs to consider include:

  • Environmental health, safety, liability, and risk management
  • Estimating, planning, and cost-effectiveness
  • Execution and responsiveness
  • Quality of service
  • Communication, documentation, and verification
  • Certification and education
  • Expertise and professionalism

There are 25 KPC criteria (check boxes) that comprise the Best Practices Checklist for benchmarking snow and ice management. These include: insurance; snow site engineering and inspection process; cycle time expectations; and capacity planning and cost-effectiveness.

Snow Site Engineering Plans
Snow site engineering plans assist fms in identifying the priority areas for clearing snow. In other words, it defines what areas of the site(s) should be cleared first, second, third, etc.This is particularly helpful as a method of storm response planning, particularly when reacting to heavier storms or blizzard conditions.snow management

The simplest way to create a snow and ice management engineering plan is to use a site map. A site map allows managers to clearly define the details at the facility and to identify snow and ice removal expectations. This map should include priority boundaries to be serviced during a worst case storm scenario when it isn’t realistic to have all areas cleared during regular operating hours. When identifying priority snow removal areas, fms should include items such as the location of fire hydrants, emergency exits, emergency egresses, and access to utilities.

The snow site engineering site plan should identify key obstacles and logistics essential for both the operator(s) and the clients/customers so that it is very clear how and where snow will be relocated (piled). Be sure to take into account line of sight issues, handicapped parking areas, and drainage locations.

A strong snow engineering plan may even be able to serve as the agreement between the client/facility and the service provider. The plan also needs to:

  • Identify bulk salt loading and storage areas. Bulk salt should be stored in a covered area on an impervious layer whenever possible to prevent salt waste and runoff.
  • Allocate snow storage areas for snow relocation on-site. Avoid locating snow piles where they will create parking lot drifting, visibility issues or melt/refreeze hazards. Whenever possible avoid locating the snow at the top of a parking lot slope, particularly if that slope is designed to pitch/drain to a catch basin.
  • Identify areas for snow to be stored if hauling off-site is necessary. Be certain the snow storage site locations have been approved by necessary local or state agencies. Avoid relocating the snow near sensitive waterways or water systems where increased concentration of salinity levels from salt might become an environmental concern.
  • Be aware of items such as blocking catch basis and manhole covers. Pay particular attention to parking deck drains, where flooding can create extreme ice and load conditions.

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