Thursday, January 31, 2013

The hazards of winter walking

By Brian Birch
We hear about the dangers of driving in winter conditions all the time, and for good measure, as it can be very hazardous. But it’s amazing to me that we don’t hear more about walking safely during winter months. We need to change this...

For example, here are some quick stats, just from one risk management company report, Zurich Insurance:
  • 35% of slips of slip and fall incidents occurred in the parking lot or parking garage
  • Approximately 25% of payments for slip, trip, and fall claims were snow and ice related
Those stats apply to only one company, so you can start to imagine the scope of the problem. In fact, the impact from slips and falls on snow and ice are estimated in the billions across North America, literally billions of dollars!

When you start to research the statistics online, its hard to find good relevant data, but one thing is apparent; slips, trips, and falls are typically in the top 5 causes of injuries for the public, and for on-the-job injuries too. While there is a great deal of information about workplace safety related to tripping over a mop bucket, there is less about the hazards of walking in a parking lot that just got hit with freezing rain.

So for now, it’s up to all of us to share some basic best practices for walking safely in winter weather. These should be common sense, but we live in a culture that wants to do anything it wants, anytime it wants to do it! So here are some tips you can share with your friends and customers to spread awareness:

TIP #1: Wear proper footwear. Proper footwear should place the entire foot on the surface of the ground and have visible treads. Avoid a smooth sole and opt for a heavy treaded shoe with a flat bottom.

TIP #2: Accessorize to see and be seen. Wear sunglasses so that you can see in the reflective light of the snow. Also, wear a bright coat or scarf so that drivers can easily see you.

TIP #3: Plan ahead. While walking on snow or ice on sidewalks or in parking lots, walk consciously. Instead of looking down, look up and see where your feet will move next to anticipate ice or an uneven surface. Occasionally scan from left to right to ensure you are not in the way of vehicles or other hazards. 

TIP #4: Make sure you can hear. While seeing the environment is important, you also want to be sure you can hear approaching traffic and other noises. Avoid listening to music or engaging in conversation that may prevent you from hearing oncoming traffic or snow removal equipment.

TIP #5: Anticipate ice. Be wary of thin sheets of ice that may appear as wet pavement (black ice). Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or where the sun shines during the day and melted snow refreezes at night. 

TIP #6: Walk steps slowly. When walking down steps, be sure to grip handrails firmly and plant your feet securely on each step.

TIP #7: Enter a building carefully. When you get to your destination such as school, work, shopping center, etc., be sure to look at the floor as you enter the building. The floor may be wet with melted snow and ice.

TIP #8: Be careful when you shift your weight. When stepping off a curb or getting into a car, be careful since shifting your weight may cause an imbalance and result in a fall.

TIP #9: Avoid taking shortcuts. Shortcuts are a good idea if you are in a hurry, but may be a bad idea if there is snow and ice on the ground. A shortcut path may be treacherous because it is likely to be located where snow and ice removal is not possible.

TIP #10: Look up. Be careful about what you walk under.  Injuries also can result from falling snow/ice as it blows, melts, or breaks away from awnings, buildings, etc.

We will share more information about what SIMA is doing to raise awareness through our Impact of Snow Initiative, stay tuned, and thanks to Pro-Tech Manufacturing & Distribution for supporting our awareness efforts!

Source: Managing slip, trip, and fall risks in snow and ice prone regions, Zurich Insurance

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Why should you tell your story?

By Brian Birch
SIMA, in conjunction with Caterpillar, Inc., just launched the 2013 Greatest Story Never Told contest. This will be the third year we offer the contest to the industry, and anyone who runs or helps to manage a professional snow organization should consider submitting their story.

The GSNT contest will award one winner a chance to be featured on the cover of Snow Business magazine. This in itself is a tremendous accomplishment, as it allows you to tell your story to your peers. It is intimidating, but if you are confident and proud of the organization you have built and the people you work with, then putting your story out there is a solid way to gain recognition in the industry and inspire others.

The reason we started this contest a few years ago was simple; we got many requests from folks to be on the cover, and we wanted to show all of you that in order to be featured, there must be a solid, tangible story behind you. We don’t just feature companies on the cover so they can use it as a marketing tool (although that is a nice bonus), we use it to give insight into how other people and companies have made it work in a challenging industry. Snow and ice management is full of great people doing good work, and we’d like to shout that to the rooftops.

If you have been challenged and grown from it as an individual, take a moment to share that insight. If you had a major crisis or event that put your team to the test, then share that story with us. If you have created a unique or innovative approach to managing snow and ice, then tell us how you did it. From there, your peers on the Editorial Committee will help determine the winner of the 2013 Greatest Story Never Told. 

Before March 15, 2013, take a few moments to write your story down and fill out the entry form at We hope to hear your story soon!

Brian Birch, CAE is the Assistant Executive Director for the Snow & Ice Management Association and can be reached at

Monday, January 14, 2013

Why do Big Shots matter?

By Elly Kobach
This will be the third year in a row SIMA and Snow Business magazine have run the Big Shots competition. In a nutshell, anyone who receives Snow Business magazine can take a fun, creative, or goofy shot of themselves or someone from their organization, with an issue of the magazine visible in the photo. From there, they simply submit their photo to the contest at, and then the rest is up to the community and the Snow Business task force to decide who this year’s Big Shot will be.

But why do we do this in the first place? There are several reasons actually.

First, we believe that the people who receive Snow Business are in general dedicated, hard-working, fun loving people. SIMA and the magazine do a lot to illustrate how professional and business-driven our industry can be, but we don’t want to forget that this is an industry that is down-to-earth and likes to have fun as well.

Second, the Big Shots contest provides us another opportunity to help someone from the industry attend the annual Snow & Ice Symposium. The winner receives free registration, $500 cash, transportation from the airport, and a free upgrade to a suite during the show. The 2nd and 3rd place winners also receive cash which can help them get to the show if they desire.

Third, we want the professionals in our industry to have an opportunity to compete and engage with each other throughout the year, and have something fun and interesting to do leading up to the show. This type of tradition is important, and highlights the diversity and creativity of the people who make up this industry.

So what are you waiting for? Get out your phones or cameras, grab an issue of Snow Business, and get creative! Submit your photo by April 1st, 2013 for a chance to win.
Special thanks to Chrysler for sponsoring the 2013 Big Shots competition, and for offering a great discount to SIMA members, see more here.

Elly Kobach is the Certification & Communications Coordinator for the Snow & Ice Management Association and can be reached at 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year, New Goals for SIMA

By Mike Mason, CSP
I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve you all as the Board Chair for 2013 here at SIMA. As we move into another year, I wanted to take a moment to thank you and share my thoughts for what 2013 will bring for all of us related through the organization and our industry:
  1. New training and new opportunities: From the new Advanced Snow Manager designation currently in development to our Resource 24/7 Training Center online, SIMA is really expanding the training options in our industry in 2013.
  2. Community outreach and public advocacy: Stay tuned for more information, because 2013 will see even more resources and effort dedicated to educating consumers, property/facility managers, and the public about the work we all do each season.
  3. Working smarter not harder: Just like any business, SIMA is an organization that has people and processes that must be managed each year. In 2013, SIMA will continue its efforts to streamline its business processes, Board governance, and technology with the goal of becoming more nimble and responsive to the industry as a whole. Look for changes in 2013 as we move the association into an exciting new phase in its development and growth.
This is my New Year’s list for SIMA…it may be short, but these three items represent a great deal of time, energy, and commitment. If we can plant a flag in 2013 and get these three items moving forward strongly and cohesively, we’ll all benefit together in this industry that we love. 

As always, the SIMA Board is open to hearing new ideas, and we encourage all of you to get more involved in your industry and its non-profit trade association. Please send any thoughts or questions to, and he can help facilitate discussions. Looking forward to a strong and snowy 2013, hope you are as well!

Mike Mason, CSP, is VP of The Lawn Pro in Louisville, KY, and is the current SIMA Board Chair.