What You Need to Know About Commercial Snow Removal to Mitigate Liability

Any business can suffer from slippery conditions and slip and fall injuries caused by accumulating snow and ice on its walkways, stairs, driveways, interior roads, and parking lots. Accidents involving slips and falls can also increase property owners’ insurance premiums and create legal issues for the property owner.

A good snow removal crew is not enough to minimize your risk of lawsuits. You can still face a slip-and-fall lawsuit despite the team performing the work according to the letter of the law and the contract.

How Vital Is Snow Removal For Your Commercial Property?

Litigation costs for slip and fall cases typically reach the tens of thousands of dollars and can easily exceed $100,000 in more aggressive lawsuits. A person claiming to have fallen on your property and demanding $100,000 from you does not imply negligence on your part as the property owner or manager.

Even though your crew removed snow, it might just be that the weather is still cold, and no amount of snow removal will keep your property as dry as it would be in the summer heat.

Who Is Responsible For Snow Removal On Your Property?

Most businesses have to keep their premises free of snow and ice. Public, employee, and customer passages on the property should be reasonably safe. It is your responsibility to keep your business and property safe, even during acts of nature like snow and ice. Companies shouldn’t have to wait for days to have ice and snow removed with readily available tools.

Meaning, you need a plan in place as soon as possible to remove ice and snow from your property; if you permit these elements to remain on your sidewalks or in your parking lot, legal suits might arise.

Snow and ice have the potential to make parking lots and sidewalks hazardous during winter. To prevent this from happening, business owners should hire snow removal experts to clear their properties of snow and ice. If a customer slips and falls, the business owner may be responsible for the injuries.

How Can You Manage Risks Before, During, and After Snow Removal?

In the wake of heavy snowfall, business owners should clear snow from their sidewalks and parking spaces to make their premises accessible to residents, employees, and customers. In most cases, snow is being shoveled out of the way rather than removed. Large snow piles result from this, which can pose a safety risk if you aren’t careful. Here are some safety tips regarding snow removal on commercial properties: Before, during, and after.

How to Manage Risks Before Snow Removal

Too high snow accumulations can pose a hazard to those walking by. Besides, snow mounds are dense, hence become dangerously heavy. In case the snow mounds collapse on nearby people or vehicles, they can cause severe injuries. A few measures you can take:

  • Regularly de-icing walkways
  • Make sure nobody plays in the snow mounds
  • Provide paths where needed through the snow
  • Work with a reputable snow removal company

How To Manage Risks During Snow Removal

Prevent snow piling up too high: In removing snow, snow piles will form. To ensure your safety, make sure they aren’t blocking your property’s windows – you’ll want a clear view of the property at all times. Ensure that any snow being pushed away from your parking lot does not block any vehicles.

Identify a snow-moving area: Before removing snow, decide where snow piles will not interfere with your or others’ property.

How to Manage Risks After Snow Removal

The best way to protect yourself and your business against such lawsuits is to document all aspects of your snow removal activities. Consider asking and documenting the following questions:

  1. When was the snow removal team on-site?
  2. Have they completed the maintenance on the property yet?
  3. At the time of the service, what was the weather like? Include temperature, snow depth, and wind.
  4. Which specific services did the team render? Shoveling, spreading ice melt, plowing, etc
  5. How much ice melt product did they use, and where was it used?


Commercial Snow Removal Lawsuit

How is Snow Traditionally Removed?

For decades, chloride salts have been the standard:

  • Sodium chloride (table salt)
  • Calcium chloride
  • Magnesium chloride
  • Potassium chloride

The heavy use of road salts has led to substantial increases in chloride concentrations in the environment over the past two decades, making it an environmental hazard.

What are the adverse environmental effects?

Freshwater ecosystems are highly vulnerable to chloride salts. Studies have shown that high chloride levels inhibit aquatic species’ growth & reproduction and decrease oxygen levels in the water. Study results from the U.S. Geological Survey found high chloride levels in 84% of streams studied, and 29% of those streams exceeded federal safety standards.

Chloride salts also affect plants and soil. Having chloride salt runoff on your commercial property can harm plants. The high salinity can make grass, plants, and trees dry up and wilt because they don’t get the water and minerals they need to thrive.

The chloride salts can also poison animals and pets because they suffer severe burns if they swallow them, while certain compounds like calcium chloride are highly toxic and can cause extreme harm even in small amounts. When pet owners frequent your business or property, there are pet-friendly options!

What is Sustainable Snow Removal?

Sustainable snow & ice removal involves two general aspects:

  1. Ice Melt Waste Reduction
  2. Avoiding products that contain chloride salt to reduce environmental impact

Combining these two aspects is the key to maximizing the effectiveness of snow & ice removal. Ice melt products can reduce waste most effectively when used to prevent ice formation. The most cost-effective and environmentally safe method for preventing ice is anti-icing (applying ice melt before it forms). Research shows applying anti-icing takes only 14% of the material and a 10th of the overall cost compared to using ice melt products when the ice has formed.

How is this Process More Environmentally Beneficial?

Acetate, carbohydrate, and potassium formate are some of the more prevalent alternatives you can use instead of chloride ice melt. Chlorine de-icers are among the biggest polluters of many ice melt because they don’t biodegrade. Acetate-based products biodegrade well and produce minimal runoff, while research reveals that they also increase soil moisture and oxygen loss.

Unlike salt, carbohydrate-based products, like beet sugar and corn carbohydrates, don’t melt ice; they only lower its freezing point more. The best way to use it is to use it in combination with other ice melt products. An example of potassium salt is potassium formate, which breaks down the hydrogen bonds in freezing water. It is plant- and animal-friendly.

How do Snow Removal Contracts Work?

There are several pieces of information in a contract:

  • Contact information for both parties is crucial.
  • Also noted is the contract’s validity period. Typically, this period extends from November 1 through April 30.
  • In the contract, you will find prices, terms, and payment information.
  • A contract’s pricing and billing cycle are two of its most essential elements. Most small snow removal companies in the Boston MA area expect payment after the snow removal job. Many corporate clients prefer to deal with their bills monthly when they hire larger companies. The payment details will depend on the historical average snowfall in the area. Snow removal companies usually have clauses that show they can end service if they don’t receive their payments.
  • Snow removal at certain times of the day or night is a critical aspect of any snow removal contract in the greater Boston MA area. A parking lot needs to be ready for customers and employees early in the morning, especially at large shopping centers and corporations. It is, therefore, necessary to clear snow overnight. Besides this, it is a legal concern to keep sidewalks clear of ice and snow since corporations are always at risk for liability.

How do Per Push Contracts Work?

A standard contract entails providing services whenever it snows. During snowfall, the snow removal company plows the area and bills the residential or commercial area afterward. In most cases, snow that has accumulated at least two inches is plow-worthy.

How do Per Event Contracts Work?

For this contract, if there is no snow or only light snow, billing will not occur over an entire season. Works best for climates where heavy snowfall is not a common occurrence but not rare enough for someone to handle fluffy accumulations. Dedicated per-event rates may appear in some contracts, as well as base rates plus height clauses. It follows then that if there is a lot of snow, the rates will increase.

How do Seasonal Contracts Work?

Seasonal winter snow removal contracts follow a fixed-rate model. You can choose either a three-month season or a five-month season agreement based on snowfall patterns in your area. Contracts that cover one snow season last for an extended period, on average, the last three to five years. Clients pay a fixed fee per month for the duration of the season.

There will always be a snow removal team on hand to keep your paths and parking lots clear, no matter how often it snows. Commercial areas or areas with heavy snowfall will benefit most from this contract. Not only will you always receive regular removal, but you will never have unexpectedly high bills since your rates remain constant every month. To find out more, contact us today.