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Winter 2016-17 is just around the corner, and you and your crews are gearing up before another snow season bears down on your market. Some are transitioning from “green” to “white,” while others are going from sweeping to plowing. No matter what your transition is, you are going through and preparing your fleets, prepping your teams and positioning your customers for the next four to five months.

It is a prime time to dig out your Accredited Snow Contractors Association binders from your desk and dust off your copy of the Industry Standards because now, more than ever, we need to brush up on the details that will help you and your teams this winter.

The Industry Standards is known technically as “American National Standards Institute document number ANSI/ASCA A1000-2014, System requirements for the Snow and ice Management Services.” All ASCA members have a copy of this document and they are available either through the ASCA or directly through ANSI.

Its website describes its mission this way: “As the voice of the U.S. standards and conformity assessment system, the American National Standards Institute empowers its members and constituents to strengthen the U.S. marketplace position in the global economy while helping to assure the safety and health of consumers and the protection of the environment.

The Institute oversees the creation, promulgation and use of thousands of norms and guidelines that directly impact businesses in nearly every sector: from acoustical devices to construction equipment, from dairy and livestock production to energy distribution, and many more.

ANSI is also actively engaged in accreditation – assessing the competence of organizations determining conformance to standards.”

The ASCA knew that to raise the bar in the snow and ice management industry, to help improve the situation as it pertains to insurance, to better positon the professionals to property owners and to influence legislation, we needed to provide snow and ice management companies a way to show the credibility of their organizations. Creating written standards for the snow and ice management industry and subsequently getting them accredited was the first step, a major step, in this direction.

In addition, accredited Industry Standards are a critical part of defending you, your company, your clients and your insurance company in the event of a slip-and-fall claim against your company. One of the first things a plaintiff’s attorney does when they take on a case (in our industry, the slip-and-fall) is go to ANSI and find out if there is a “standard” for the industry they are about to file suit against.

There are thousands of standards out there. One you may be familiar with is the American Society of Safety Engineers Standard for slip-resistant surfaces. If you are familiar with this, it is likely that you were asked about it in a deposition defending your company. This was the standard that was most often referenced by attorneys in the past. This standard has two paragraphs that cover snow and ice. They essentially advise “have a plan.” Not a real helpful standard for us in the snow and ice management industry.

The ANSI/ASCA Standard for snow and ice management covers training, preseason site inspection reports, in-event documentation, post-event processes and procedures, and weather service reporting. It also includes a set of definitions of commonly used industry terms. These standards were developed according to ANSI requirements by a group of your peers – real world snow and ice management contractors. They were then reviewed and voted on by a consensus body that included representatives from snow and ice management companies, your customers (property managers and owners), as well as others allied to the snow industry.

ASCA member companies receive a copy of these standards as soon as they join. I encourage you to brush up on these as a part of your preseason preparation.