4 Tips to Develop a Winter Operations Plan for Your Facility
Saturday, January 13, 2018
Ice and business don't mix. Hazardous surfaces in and around your facility in winter can make it impossible for customers and staff to make it to your door. Lawsuits from slip-and-fall accidents can raise your liability insurance premiums.
In some locations, your lease or city code may mandate snow and ice removal. Your business could face stiff fines for noncompliance.
Cities and large corporations manage large-scale snow and ice removal by developing operation plans. A winter operation plan is a well thought out, systematic protocol for identifying and managing your facility's winter surface threats. A successful plan includes the components listed below.
1. Communication Flow
How does your facility manage emergencies? Is there a chain-of-command type of approach or do you have key employees who take over when there's a crisis? Who notifies staff of shift shut-downs and calls staff back to work?
There should be a clear and unambiguous method for contacting all employees affected by winter emergencies. Choose a plant manager, groundskeeping supervisor or another person familiar with your facility to be your winter operations leader. This winter operations leader will take over management of a snowstorm or ice storm event.
Another member of your administration should be the spokesperson for your winter operations leader so that the leader is free to handle the actual ice and snow removal.
It's easy to set up a winter-closing status on social media that staff and customers can check. Designate a person to handle updating the site. Encourage all other staff and employees to develop a phone tree in case power is out and people can't use the internet in your area. Make certain that every employee will be notified.
2. Safety Goals
Any successful winter operations plan has goals. Your winter operations plan should have safety as the key goal, but it should have other goals as well. To create these goals, identify the areas where ice and snow may become a problem. Survey your department heads and/or workers about snow and ice issues they've faced in the past.
Think of problems your facility has faced in winter, including:
When your goals are spelled out next to each risk, you're less likely to leave out essential areas of your facility. For example, some goals to address the problems above would be:
- Melting snow that makes the inside floors slippery.
- Icicles that could fall, putting people and vehicles at risk.
- Iced-over dock steps that are unsafe to navigate.
You can't create goals until you know what the real problems are. Do a thorough assessment of all potentially icy walkways, lots and driveways on your property to set goals for the entire facility.
- Install weather-proof floor mats at every entry point
- Schedule routine checks for and removal of icicles
- Schedule hourly maintenance of dock steps
Remember, all people using your facility — from staff to clients — must be considered in your safety plans.
3. Response Protocol for Risky Areas
The goals you stated above are your guide to proper protocol. If your goal is "100 percent snow-and-slush clearing of our staff parking lot," protocol will be to hire a snow removal service or use employees and your own equipment to get the job done.
If the goal is to have the sidewalk shoveled clear by 8 a.m., your protocol might be to have an employee scheduled to come in at 5 a.m. on mornings when snowfall is expected.
Have a clear process for dealing with ice and snow, no matter how small the area. Make sure contact numbers and email addresses for vendors and snow-clearing employees are printed in your winter operations manual.
4. Material Procurement
An important part of winter preparation is stocking up on snow-and-ice removal equipment and products. The exact supplies you need depend on your facility type and location. It's good to have a number of adequate shovels, sand, stiff brooms, snow blowers and other tools.
Modern de-icing agents are another smart item to store in a convenient place. There are safe agents available for a variety of surfaces and applications. Contact Mailender to order the supplies and floor mats you need to keep your sidewalks and entryway surfaces free of slippery conditions.