Snow removal at your facility requires detailed planning to be optimally effective. A "snow-site engineering plan" refers to a plan that maps out in advance where to plow and pile snow, what areas to always keep snow-free, where the loading and supply zones are located, and what aspects of the snow removal task to prioritize.
This plan can be represented on a schematic of your facility grounds that has all pertinent information marked on it. Logistical data, expectations, and snow moving and storage instructions can all be included. Such a visual aid can even incorporate relevant parts of a snow removal contract when snow and ice removal is outsourced.
Snow-Site Engineering Education
One way for a facility manager who is very serious about formulating an ideal snow-site engineering plan to accomplish that goal is through a SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association) course on the topic. SIMA can help train you on how to visualize, plan, and execute a site engineering system during an actual winter weather event.
The SIMA Best Practices Checklist sums up their approach. The main elements involved are:
- Setting up easy-to-see visual references for snow removal crew members to use when snow in the air and on the ground obscures the scene.
- Analyzing logistical issues, like how high and where to pile snow, best plowing routes, and special hazards to avoid.
- Keeping communication lines open with crew members during operations so problems that may arise are quickly addressed.
You will also want to establish a site inspection process to ensure that everything is being done according to plan. To avoid all "conflicts of interest," it is best if the inspector is not himself handling the snow removal task. A good site engineering plan with adequate inspection will help you to minimize safety risks as well as liability risks during snow removal operations.
Elements of Snow-Site Engineering Plans
Along with a desire to optimize snow removal efforts at your facility and an educational background in snow-site engineering, you will need to know some specific elements to include in the plan. Some considerations to include are:
- Define order of clearance: first, second, third, etc. This is crucial during a blizzard when the full grounds cannot be cleared before the facility opens for business. For example, you should clear snow around fire hydrants, near emergency exits, and on handicapped parking spaces first.
- Designate snow storage zones. Take into account how much snow is likely to accumulate in an area, where snowmelt will eventually drain off, and how snow piles will affect the line of sight.
- Emphasize where not to pile snow. Do not create a parking lot snow drift, a slipping hazard when snow melts and refreezes, or move snow near sensitive waterways that could suffer from increased salinity in the melt-off. Do not block catch basins or manholes.
- If you need to haul snow off-site, specify where and the route to reach the deposit area. Make sure the site is approved for snow storage by state and local government agencies.
- Indicate where bulk salt loading/storage will occur. Make sure the salt is covered to prevent salt from escaping and being wasted.
Forming a snow-site engineering plan for your facility will take a little work and research, but it will serve you well by making your operations safer and more efficient. Each facility is different, and therefore, each plan will be different, but you can learn the general principles and apply them to your specific situation.