Fire hydrant poking out of deep snow
Fire hydrant poking out of deep snow

Outdoor winter maintenance for businesses4 minute read

As a business owner, whether you own or lease a commercial property, it’s important to protect your property and consider the safety of others during the winter. Here are some crucial outdoor areas business owners should think about if they want to help prevent property damage and accidents:

Roofs

A roof covered in snow can be inconspicuous. After all, it’s winter! While there’s nothing wrong with having snow on your roof, it becomes a bit more concerning when snow and ice on a roof exceeds 6 inches. Excess snow or ice that accumulates can create ice dams, which in turn, prevent drainage. Not having proper drainage can end up damaging your roof as well as the structure of your property.

With that in mind, snow should be removed before it can cause damage. But removing snow from a roof can put owners, employees, and workers at risk of falling, electrocution, and heart attacks.

That’s why it’s important that these safety tips are considered before attempting to remove snow from a roof:

  • Keep people walking near the building at a safe distance by setting up a safety perimeter.
  •  Identify and eliminate any hazards (or ensure you have control of them).
  • Locate where electrical installations are placed.
  • Make sure you have the right tools, such as wood or plastic shovels, and rubber mallets to break up ice.
  • Avoid using tools that may damage the roof, such as sharp tools like axes or picks, and tools that use excessive heat (like welding torches).
  • Make sure there are no blockages to ensure there is good water drainage.
  • Keep in mind that de-icing salt can accelerate the corrosion of metal components on the roof.

If it seems too risky to remove snow from your roof, there are qualified snow and ice removal professionals that can take on the task. They’ll know the best techniques and have the right equipment to remove snow and ice from a roof safely.

Parking lots, walkways, sidewalks, exits and stairs

It’s not just your roof you have to keep an eye on. You should also be mindful of the areas where employees, customers and other pedestrians drive, park, and walk. A heavy snowfall followed by freezing rain is the perfect recipe for a slip and fall accident. It’s crucial that owners take responsibility for risky areas that have the potential to cause an unwanted accident.

Also ensure emergency exits, doors, and stairs are never obstructed or covered with snow. This is especially important for paths leading to emergency evacuation assembly points. Swift evacuation is vital during an emergency.

If you’re having employees remove snow and ice, ensure you clearly define their tasks for them. Carefully explain which areas need to be maintained, how often those areas are to be serviced, and what equipment and materials are required. Entrances, exits, and stairways should be serviced before the arrival of other staff and visitors. Also ensure employees are always documenting their efforts. Keep a complete log of what has been done, at what time, by whom, and note the weather conditions at the time of snow and ice removal.

Alternatively, if you’re having a contractor remove snow and ice, make sure to sign a written contract or service agreement that specifically defines the work that needs to be done, as well as each party’s roles and responsibilities. If possible, also procure a certificate of insurance from the contractor to help confirm whether their insurance has suitable legal liability coverage.

Emergency services and fire department connections

Is your business on a route that emergency vehicles use? Although fire department trucks are big, they weren’t built to be snowplows. If there’s a fire hydrant outside your business, or a fire department connection (fire sprinkler system) outside your property, don’t let snow accumulate in those areas. If it does, it could delay the fire department from attending to an emergency.

Keep your business safe When Canadian winter weather strikes, it’s easy to want to stay indoors. But extreme cold, blizzards, ice storms, and accumulated snow can wreak havoc on your property if it goes unchecked. Take the time to perform winter maintenance in order to help keep your business safe and minimize damage. For more information on keeping your company safe, visit our blog.

This blog is provided for information only and is not a substitute for professional advice. We make no representations or warranties regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information and will not be responsible for any loss arising out of reliance on the information.

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