Facilities Management: Looking Ahead to Winter, Snow & Risk Management

Posted: May 19, 2020

With the snow finally disappearing for the year, the summer months are a great time for commercial property managers to review their winter risk management plans. Assessing winter risk management plans in the warmer months will help streamline plans, improve performance, control costs, and better ensure the safety of visitors, staff, and the workers performing snow-related services. More importantly, summer gives managers an opportunity to identify these areas for improvement before winter returns.

RISK IDENTIFICATION

The foundation of any effective winter risk management plan is risk identification. To put together an effective plan, a thorough site review or walk-through of the property needs to be conducted. The warm summer weather will make it easier to walk around and find possible issues that could be hiding under the snow and ice during winter. Make sure to inspect these key areas of your property:

  1. Building Entrances

    Exterior doorways are prime areas for slip-and-fall hazards. Managers should not ignore awnings and other door or window coverings, either. These areas can collect snow and create runoff that can refreeze after a snow event, creating hazardous conditions.

  2. Walkways, Stairs, and Ramp

    Any surface that customers, staff, or other individuals walk on will need to be kept clear of snow and ice to prevent hazardous conditions and liability concerns. Applying de-icer before a snow event starts is a great way to help prevent snow and ice from accumulating on these surfaces.

  3. Parking Lots

    Crews should keep curb lines and other obstructions, including fire hydrants and decorative structures, clear of snow and ice buildup. Making good notes of the layout of your lot will minimize the risk of damage to curbs, medians, or other structures.

  4. Drainage

    The slope of the property can cause water to flow onto pedestrian areas and freeze. Identifying these areas is key to ensuring safety. Faulty building drainage and inoperable drains need to be identified as well so that they can be improved or repaired and minimize the risk of run-off water pooling up and freezing.

  5. Snow Storage

    Where to put all of the plowed snow also needs to be considered. It can take weeks or sometimes months for large snow piles to melt completely! Snow piles should be placed where they will not block driver or pedestrian visibility, or create slipping hazards from frozen run-off water. If the property does not have a suitable area for keeping all the plowed snow where it does not create any risk of liability, off-site snow removal should be considered.

  6. Damage

    Any damaged areas could indicate that changes are needed to your snow management plan to keep your property looking its best. For example, cracked sidewalks may be a result of run-off water that didn’t drain properly, and was able to freeze and thaw repeatedly over time, or grass and landscape damage can result from the overuse of deicers or improper snow storage.

RISK ANALYSIS – PRIORITIZE, PREPARE, AND BE READY TO RESPOND

After your commercial property has been thoroughly reviewed, you will be able to create a proper winter risk management plan that prioritizes the most heavily-trafficked areas of the property. Having these preparation and response strategies in place, and implementing them productively, will minimize liability risks and maximize the efficiency of the staff on hand. Ensuring that your winter risk management plan can stay within budget is also crucial. An efficient plan will control costs as well as possible, saving you money and the stress of going over-budget.

By assessing risks, prioritizing the most important areas that need to be cared for, being prepared for a snow event beforehand, and being ready to respond as soon as possible, you can build an excellent winter risk management plan that will be efficient, cost-effective, and will maximize safety while mitigating risk and liability as much as possible.


For many commercial properties, the workload of winter risk management can be too much for an individual or small team to handle safely or effectively. If you are looking for a more effective winter risk management plan, or a certified, reliable snow and ice removal company, consider what Snow Management Services can do for you. We have been managing winter property risk for over 25 years, and our crews have the equipment, experience, and professionalism to get the job done right. Give us a call at (303) 750-8867 today or contact us online for a free quote.