Snow accumulation can be a serious problem for many areas of the country. Freshly fallen snow provides an excellent opportunity to create great winter sports like skiing, snowmobiling, snowboarding, hockey or just plain old fun games for kids, but it also presents problems that must be dealt with to ensure public safety.
Commercial snow and ice management is essential during the winter months. Removing the snow also prevents any injuries caused by slipping on the wet snow. It also prevents a vehicle from skidding while rolling out of a driveway or a semi truck full of food sliding off the road and not getting the supplies to the local grocery store. Thus, the importance of snow management is in avoiding injuries and keeping people safe from harm.
Snow Removal on the Interstate
The importance of snow removal on the interstate for the trucking industry cannot be understated. The amount of time and money saved by the quick removal of snow and ice from the interstate is astounding. However, this importance was not always recognized for its efficiency and cost-savings benefits.
In the early 1960s, a cross-country trip on the nation’s highways had many stopping to help truckers who had become stuck in the snow. In fact, it became a national pastime to help stranded truckers by pushing their trucks out of the many drifts they had become stuck in.
In 1963, when he was president of the New York State Motor Truck Association, Grover W. Ensley began advocating with the New York Department of Transportation and other officials for states to begin using chemicals to treat roadways before winter storms arrived. With his concerns about costs and safety, he was able to convince the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to experiment with salt brine on state highways during winter months.
The first chemical used by NYSDOT for this purpose was liquid calcium chloride, which is a liquid salt compound derived from limestone. The liquid calcium chloride was mixed with water and sprayed from trucks onto the highways before snowstorms. However, because of the limited volume of liquid calcium chloride that could be carried on trucks, it was not feasible for widespread use throughout the country.
The second chemical used in the experiment was called Super-Solve, which was a mixture of 95 percent calcium chloride and 5 percent magnesium chloride. The solution worked well at keeping roadways free of ice, but it did not prevent the precipitation that turned into snow from sticking to road surfaces.
The third chemical used was salt, in the form of brine that was sprayed from trucks onto roadways just before or during winter storms. Brine is a mixture of salt and water that freezes at 28 degrees Fahrenheit.
By the end of the 1963 winter season, NYSDOT was using all three chemicals to help control road conditions. Salt brine proved to be the most effective chemical but was far more expensive than using sand, which was the traditional method used to help control winter road conditions. By 1965, it was becoming clear that while chemicals could be effective in helping trucks maintain traction on snowy roadways, they were not cost-effective when compared with sand.
Why hire a pro?
Winter weather conditions can cause safety issues where customers or employees could slip and fall on icy sidewalks. Driveways and parking lots can be hazardous as well if snow and ice are allowed to accumulate.
Unexpected weather conditions frequently occur in many cold-weather locations, making it difficult to get in and out of work buildings and the parking lots. A pro has a plan before the storm even occurs, and if it isn’t too severe, areas should be cleared and safe within 24 hours of the weather event. No need to close up shop!
- Safer Work Environments
Snow and ice management is a job for the experts and should not be a do-it-yourself project. Unfortunately, most owners do not have the proper equipment to handle the job effectively, nor do they have the proper training or experience, resulting in incidents like slip and fall accidents, dangerous parking areas, or just a complete inconvenience for everyone at the workplace.
What are the impacts and challenges of de-icing?
One primary concern in snow removal is environmental safety. Salt can cause problems when it comes into contact with certain vegetation. It can also be an issue if animals come into contact with salt and sodium chloride. These factors must be considered when dealing with governmental agencies and large businesses that forbid salt to melt ice.
Salt can also corrode metals such as steel, aluminum, or galvanized metal—and because most snow-removal equipment is made from one of these three materials, the salt used in snow management can cause significant damage to vehicles that are involved or come into contact with it. When this happens, replacement parts must be obtained, and the vehicle must be reconditioned at the owner’s expense.
The chemicals used in most winter de-icing materials are corrosive to metals as well as rubber hoses and belts, thus requiring meticulous maintenance of snow-removal equipment. For example, calcium chloride is used in roughly 90 percent of the winter mountain areas of the United States. Unfortunately, it is very corrosive to metals, rubber hoses, and belts if it comes into direct contact with them. Calcium chloride corrodes bare metal or galvanized steel at a rate of 6.5 lbs. per year per 1,000 square feet.
People using snow-removal equipment must be appropriately trained in the best practices used for this job and should always wear safety gear while doing so. Anyone involved in the snow removal industry must be trained in proper safety procedures for using snow-removal equipment as well as the use of chemicals for de-icing and should wear protective goggles or glasses, thick gloves to avoid injury from sharp edges or chemicals, waterproof boots that provide traction on icy surfaces, and heavy clothing.
Snow management also includes the use of corrosive chemicals such as sodium chloride or calcium chloride to de-ice roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, etc. Employees using these materials must take precautions to avoid contact with them. If they come into contact with it, they should immediately exit the area to prevent damage due to corrosion.
If salt or other corrosive materials are used for melting snow or ice, the equipment used must be thoroughly cleaned after every use to prevent damage. Salt-damaged vehicles should not be kept outside; they should be brought inside to avoid rusting. Since rust is almost impossible to remove from vehicles, this process can become extremely expensive.
Snow management is a critical aspect of the snow removal industry that has been taken more seriously in recent years due to injury and damage caused by improper use not only of snow-removal equipment but also through the use of corrosive chemicals such as salt.
Snow management is an integral part of snow removal that must be taken seriously by both employees and employers due to dangers associated with damage or injury caused by defective or improperly used equipment; failure to follow this guideline can cause extensive damage or injury to equipment, people, or property.