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Slips and Falls Prevention – Snow and Ice

Slips and falls at schools from snow and ice covered walking surfaces are a common cause of injuries to staff, students, and visitors. Schools are faced with the added exposure of people coming and going at all times during the day, increasing the need to monitor snow and ice conditions. To reduce the slip and fall exposures with snow and ice, formal procedures should be developed and followed.

Snow and Ice Removal Policies and Procedures

Snow and Ice Equipment
This photo shows equipment and supplies that should be on hand to effectively handle snow and ice.

Some schools may have only their employees and/or volunteers perform snow and ice removal. For schools with large parking lots and extensive sidewalks, they not have the resources to do this alone, and will hire a contractor. Others may employ a combination of using their own staff and outside contractors. In any case, procedures should be put in place to address snow and ice removal, including the following:

  • Designate someone to monitor snow and ice conditions. This individual will be responsible to coordinate snow and ice removal operations.
  • During the months when snow and ice will be a concern, monitor weather reports daily. This will give you advanced warning of approaching weather.
  • Snow and ice removal equipment should be available and ready to go, including shovels, ice melt, snow blowers, etc.
  • Snow removal should occur when one inch or more of snow has fallen or if ice conditions are present.
  • Walkways in front of entrances should have de-icing products applied.
  • Snow and ice will melt and water can accumulate inside the building at the entrances from foot traffic. These areas should be monitored closely for wet conditions. Make sure mats are in place and replaced if they become water logged.
  • Look for ice conditions that could develop on walking surfaces from runoff from roofs, downspouts and other areas.
  • Isolate problem areas by closing them to the general public, or install signs warning of the potential slip hazard. Make sure that by closing an area off, you are not redirecting foot traffic to other slip and trip hazards. (For example, re-routing sidewalk traffic that requires a user to step off the curb into a parking lot.)

Hiring a Contractor

If a contractor is used, the following guidelines should apply:

  • The workload of the contractor should be considered. The contractor should not have too many jobs that they are unable to fulfill their responsibilities.
  • The contractor should have the appropriate equipment required to adequately provide snow removal.
  • The contractor should provide you with a certificate of insurance that names the school as an additional insured under the contractor’s insurance policy.
  • A written contract should be used with a hold harmless/indemnification clause included.
  • The areas of the school the contractor is responsible for should be documented (that is, front and rear parking lots, sidewalks, etc.).
  • The contractor should have guidelines as to a maximum timeframe in which to complete the snow removal, such as after the precipitation has ended (for example, two hours) or the amount of snow that has accumulated (for example, more than one inch).

Snow and Ice Removal Log

A log documenting the steps taken to remove snow and ice can be a good defense to claims that the school was negligent in snow or ice removal. Only adopt the use of a log, however, if your school will consistently document all aspects of your snow and ice removal operations. The following sample logs  can be used to document snow and ice removal:

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© 2019 The GuideOne Center for Risk Management, LLC. All rights reserved.This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.