Snow removal and de-icing: Tips for crews, clients

Updated Dec 13, 2018
Snow should be removed as soon as possible, lest it become compacted by pedestrians.Snow should be removed as soon as possible, lest it become compacted by pedestrians.

Winter is finally here. With it comes the beauty – and the danger – of trying to walk in a snowy wonderland.

If snow removal is one of the services you offer, now is the time to remind your employees of how to safely clear walkways and often-used paths for customers.

Stay ahead

It is important to try to clear snow away early and often. If left to pile up, it will become dense and compacted, making the job much harder. If using a snow shovel, it is safer to remove thin layers of snow at a time instead of trying to move one whole heavy load.

Get a grip

It is crucial to wear the proper footwear when clearing walkways of snow and ice. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, insulated, water-resistant boots with good rubber treads are ideal for the job.

For extra traction, materials such as sand or birdseed can be used. Obviously they won’t melt the snow or ice, but it will help add some better footing while working. It is important, though, to clean up the sand afterward because it can collect in drainage areas.

Use proper form

Walk with short and slower steps when traveling on a snowy path. For areas too narrow for snow throwers, it is better to push the snow instead of trying to lift it with a shovel. However, if you must lift, be sure to lift with your legs and scoop small amounts. Do not throw snow over your shoulder or to the side as this can lead to back strain.

Think before de-icing

Rock salt and other de-icers are a double-edged sword. While they are effective at melting ice, they can take a toll on nearby plants and hardscaping. Excess salt can also leach into water supplies if not disposed of properly.

When using de-icers, it is important to keep in mind that they will not melt snow or ice completely; they simply make the job easier by melting down to the bottom and loosening the snow and ice.

Sodium chloride, more commonly known as rock salt, is the cheapest de-icer option and can be used at temperatures higher than 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be used at a rate of about 5 pounds per 100 square feet. While it is harmful to most plants, this problem can be lessened by disposing of excess product and flushing the landscape with water.

Another, albeit more expensive, de-icing option is calcium chloride. According to the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, calcium chloride is the most effective de-icer, as it melts snow faster than salt and remains effective down to -25 degrees Fahrenheit. It should be used at a rate of 1.5 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet.

Calcium magnesium acetate is a plant-friendly alternative de-icer that is biodegradable and non-corrosive, but it comes at a higher price and is less effective in colder temperatures and wet, heavy snow. It should be applied at a rate of 2.8 pounds per 100 square feet.

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