It’s snowin’ and blowin’ everywhere in Ohio right now and in much of the U.S., but like my grandma says, “It’s that time of year!” There are times when we have to venture out, even during and after winter weather events. When there are snow and ice on the ground, it can be dangerous for people walking in and out of homes, workplaces, stores, and restaurants.
Slips and falls on the winter snow and ice are quite common during this time of year. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in 2017, there were over 20,000 occupational injuries related to ice, sleet, and snow; 14 percent (2,890 cases) of which occurred in New York State.
For businesses that do not have snow removal equipment or the maintenance staff to properly take care of winter weather, having a snow removal plan in place with a local contractor can help prevent someone from getting hurt on your property due to slipping on the snow and ice. Below are some basic guidelines to keep in mind when selecting and utilizing a snow removal contractor:
- Ensure you get a written contract. And one that covers all of your business’s snow and ice removal needs (e.g., parking lots, driveways, walkways, roof coverings). A representative should visit the property and take notes about requested services and potential obstacles. Ensure the contract clearly states the services to be performed and under what conditions. Read anything before you sign, and understand cancellation fees and extra charges that may apply.
- Ask for a schedule. Some contractors do snowplow services as a part-time job, so this may affect their availability to perform services when needed.
- Check references. Look for a snow removal contractor who is established, licensed, and a bonded professional. If a company is reluctant to answer questions, supply proper information, or offer references – this could be cause for concern.
- Ask to see the contractor’s certificate of insurance. Request a statement from their insurer so you have it in writing. Ensure their coverage for Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance is current.
- Monitor the contractor’s work. Ensure they are removing snow and ice after a weather event has occurred in a timely manner and in accordance with the established contract.
- Find out how the company expects payment. Most contractors take two forms: pay-per-plowing or pay-per-season. If you’re asked to pay all fees upfront – that’s a red flag. Most contractors will split fees into multiple payments, like one at the beginning, middle, and end of the season.
Ensuring your business is properly cleared from snow and ice after a winter storm may not only help avoid injury to you and your customers but help ensure they can safely and easily patronize your business!
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