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How to Combat Ice, Snow and Other Winter Woes
By Gerry Cecil, National Account Executive

For most of the nation, the cold weather is here, along with the sleet, snow and slippery conditions that create special challenges for your recycling business. Here are some tips for protecting your employees, customers and building from the woes of winter.

Snow & Ice Removal

Slip and fall incidents are one of the biggest workers compensation and liability exposures facing business owners. Don't wait until winter hits your part of the country to prepare for the worst.

Prepare for ice and snow in advance.

Develop and implement a snow and ice removal program. One person should be assigned responsibility for monitoring and coordinating this effort.

Assign a coordinator for in-house snow removal efforts and/or those of professional snow removal contractors.

Make sure you have appropriate equipment, tools and supplies ready for your employees to use if needed.

Contract/retain professional snow removal companies in advance. Make sure the service includes regular checks on your location, 24-hour and on-call capabilities.

Record pertinent data on a snow/ice removal log.

Allow sufficient time for snow/ice removal treatment to take full effect.

Be aware that high piles of snow can reduce visibility in vehicle traffic areas, especially at corners.

Provide adequate lighting for all pedestrian areas.

Redirect downspouts that empty onto walkways, because they can create slip and fall hazards.

All entrances into the building should have mats or rugs to help keep the floors clean and dry.

Don't leave floor spills unattended - especially in customer traffic areas. Clean up the spill right away and post a "Caution - Wet Floor" sign in the area.

Attend to injured people immediately - show compassion, but never admit fault.

Immediately conduct accident/incident investigations.

Beware of Snow & Ice Loads

Over the past few years, thousands of snow-related roof failures have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to business. These collapses indicate that not all building codes have addressed the snow-load problem adequately. Quality of construction, lack of inspection and proper maintenance are factors contributing to these structural failures, as well as the following:

Discontinuous heating of structures can cause melting, refreezing and subsequent ice build up.

Sloped warm roofs can cause refreezing on cold eaves, leading to ice dams or backup of ice under shingles.

Wind-driven snow creates drifting, which significantly increases snow loads.

Barrel vault and saw-tooth roofs collect excess snow and ice in valleys.

Rain on top of heavy snowfall significantly increases the load, which can lead to structure failure.

Ponding can occur when water backs up on roofs and in drainage systems. Snow & Ice Load Recommendations

Visually examine the roof's structural members, if possible. Check for leaks, sagging or misalignment; corroded, cracked and/or buckled steel members; split and/or rotted timber; and cracked and/or spalled concrete members.

Clear the debris from all drains, gutters and downspouts.

Routinely check roofs for ponding. Low areas should be repaired and/or additional drains added.

If the building is left unheated for long periods, make sure the roof will be capable of withstanding any additional snow load.

If lower roofs, canopies or covered walkways have been added to the structure, the effects of sliding and drifting snow should be considered for these additions.

Increased snow loads and additional dead load due to reduced melting must be considered for any roof retrofitted with additional insulation for energy conservation reasons.

The roof should be capable of withstanding sliding and drifting snow loads where solar panes, mechanical equipment or other roof projections have been added.

Dead loads, such as air conditioners, heaters and suspended storage platforms, added to the roof's structural members will decrease the roof's live load capacity.

For more information about how Universal Underwriters Group, Special Account Services can help your automotive recycling business needs call 800-840-8842, ext. 4845, visit www.uuic.com/specaccts/ara.asp or email: uuic.specaccts@us.zurich.com.