Once the weather gets colder and the days become shorter, facility managers have a whole new set of issues to face. Freezing pipes, thermostats gone haywire, power shortages - the list goes on and on. Add a snowstorm into the mix, and your operations grind to a halt while the stress levels of you and your staff skyrocket. Being unprepared to deal with snow also has more serious implications for hospitals and other health facilities, where unobstructed access to services is essential for patients and those in need of immediate care.
Don't wait until a blizzard dumps three feet of snow on your parking lot and walkways to figure out how you'll dig your facility out. Instead, complete the following steps ahead of time:
Assemble a team
You don't want to be scrambling to secure snow removal staff in the early hours of a blizzard. Designate a snow removal team far ahead of time that's made up of personnel who are trained on snow removal equipment and who will be available to help around the clock. Once you've formed your team, establish how you will communicate with each other when a storm hits.
Create a plan
Having a snow removal plan in place ahead of time is essential to ensuring that when an actual storm hits, you'll be able to efficiently clear out the area around your building. FacilitiesNet recommended mapping out which routes you and your team will use to clear out snow, keeping in mind your facility's proximity to major streets, residential areas and other commercial buildings. Determine what areas you'll prioritize as well. It's smart to take care of walkways and other pedestrian areas first, especially for hospitals and other health facilities. Also, depending on your team size and resources, consider cutting down on how much of the parking lot you clear. HeatTrak suggested that if the people that use your building typically park on a certain side of the lot, you can only worry about clearing that area and save the rest of your time for priority zones.
An established team and snow removal plan is pretty much useless if you don't have the machines and equipment necessary, or if the ones you have are in poor condition. Throughout the year, conduct inspections on your snow plows and other equipment to make sure that they are in optimal working condition. Ideally, keep your machines and equipment in a covered, secure storage space so they're not exposed to the elements. Make sure you have more than enough of everything on hand, including the oft-overlooked shovels, which are essential for clearing stairs and pathways, HeatTrak advised.
Upgrade or outsource
If your fleet of snow removal machines and plows is lacking or out-of-date, seriously consider making the investment and purchasing several new machines. Though it will likely be pricey, the time and stress saved once the snow comes around will make it all worth it. In some cases it can be beneficial to hire a private contractor to help out with the snow removal. Weigh the costs of outsourcing snow removal with the benefits to make the best decision for your building, and if you go with a private company, make sure to select and coordinate with them far ahead of time. Using a private company frees up your team so they can take care of the other duties necessary during a storm.
Whether you're looking at three inches of snow or three feet, you'll be happy that you took the time to create your snow removal plan ahead of time. By following the steps above, you'll take away the stress and surprise that comes with that first snowfall.