Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Liability Protection is Here











'This may be a very good start, a true win-win for the environment and salt applicators.'

By Martin Tirado, CAE
Yes, you read the heading right. There is now liability protection for ‘salt applicators’ in the state of New Hampshire as of September 26, 2013. This was voted into law by the NH legislature this summer as part of their House Bill 2. The liability protection can be read in full in here in rulemaking RSA 508:22

Here’s a quick synopsis of how to obtain the protection:
  • Obtain a commercial applicator certification via training
  • Abide by best management practices taught in the training
  • Maintain accurate documentation, and keep them for up to 3 years
These requirements are not overly burdensome, and the fees involved are negligible considering the liability protection the legislation provides. It’s also voluntary, not mandated. This has been in the making for several years, as NH’s Department of Environmental Services have supported it based on increasing amounts of chloride levels in fresh water sources. New Hampshire wants better trained salt applicators, which they feel will lower overuse of salt application in winter weather.

When it comes to battling for improved liability protection for snow and ice providers, the environmental angle is a game-changer. The conversation with legislative and regulatory bodies can change from generalized tort reform to how snow and ice providers are part of the equation as stewards of the environment. Snow and ice professionals will go through appropriate training, learn the best management practices and apply these in snow and ice weather conditions. Chlorides will be used more effectively in snow and ice management, resulting in lower chloride levels in freshwater lakes and rivers, and application rates will be documented.

In turn, what we are asking for is protection from liability that costs our businesses the ability to purchase affordable, adequate coverage for the important work we do. Liability protection for other states and provinces isn’t a long shot to request; the state of NH has already granted it. Many NH contractors immediately have this protection as they have gone through the Green SnowPro Program, a training program implemented two years ago.

To date, the University of New Hampshire has been the only provider of salt applicator certification education. Training most likely will be available through other education providers, including SIMA. And as for the legislation, other government bodies will consider this if presented to the right people in the right way. Connecticut is already looking at New Hampshire as model language for new legislation. Other areas of North America are concerned about increasing chloride levels in fresh water and are searching for answers. This may be a very good start, a true win-win for the environment and salt applicators. SIMA is looking for states and provinces that are interested in passing similar legislation, as we are here to be an advocate for the operator/applicator.

More changes in regulations and laws on salt applications are surely coming, and in this case, that’s a good thing.

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