Ready or not, it’s time to start thinking about winter weather again! It’s hard to predict when that first snow will fall, so it’s imperative to start planning early, because preparation is key. Now is the perfect time to be making sure you have your winter operations plan in order. A documented plan is the best way to make sure that you and your staff are in lockstep and minimize liability exposure.
Your plan should cover what routes your snow and ice removal will follow. The plan should prioritize routes and designate which materials (salt, gravel or sand) should be used on roads based on traffic volume.
Outline your communication policies so you know how you will notify the public of important information and maintain contact between your crews. With the rise of social media, using Facebook or Twitter may be good options to keep your residents informed.
If you have mutual aid agreements with other nearby places, make sure those are well-documented and it’s clear how you will communicate with each other when help is needed. A formal, written mutual aid agreement is vital because issues like liability and compensation are already worked out.
Your winter operations plan should have procedures on how to prep equipment for the upcoming winter. Make sure equipment is clean, greased up, and all the belts and bolts are tightened and checked. Your machines are subjected to harsh conditions and exposed to corrosive materials over the winter, so it’s important to perform these check-ups. Make sure your plan includes equipment repair and maintenance tasks that must be performed throughout the winter months as well.
Ensure you and your team know how work will be documented. It’s essential to record labor hours and costs that go into dealing with snow or ice storms so that any questions that arise can be easily answered about what was done when. Good records reduce liability exposure and help protect your government in the event of a lawsuit.
Some other concerns that your plan should address are the details of any contractor agreements you have in place and matters of safety that may come up for your crews and residents.
So, dust off your winter operations plan and make sure it’s up to snuff. There’s no time like the present and you must do everything you can to stay ahead of the winter weather!