Thursday, January 8, 2015

Why don’t snow professionals value training like other industries?

'Strategically, SIMA is working to shake the industry up and build a better, safer, and more efficient workforce.'

By Brian Birch, CAE
As SIMA has grown, we've built and launched many training events and products over the years. Recently we launched the Advanced Snow Management program, after literally years of project work and discussion.

The thing that has surprised me is that many snow professionals don’t necessarily value training in snow all that much.  Our surveys over the years clearly indicate that a great number of companies do very little formal training specific to snow each year.

The reasons for disinterest in training are many, and are not to be taken lightly; the cost of training is high, the challenge of keeping good employees is high, and often times the perception of the industry is low in general. And don’t get me wrong, there are many examples across North America of companies training well in snow and ice. But I do think that training and building key skills in the industry is something that can be strengthened over time. Strategically, SIMA is working to shake the industry up and build a better, safer, and more efficient workforce.

In late 2014, SIMA staff and a group of key volunteers known as the Stakeholder Advisory Group went through a strenuous process to apply for ANSI accreditation for all four Advanced Snow Management courses. After one full year of preparation, over 30 pages of documentation, $10,000+ in application fees and preparation expenses, 60+ documents, and countless hours, SIMA’s application was submitted in early December. Our application is under review until mid-January, and then the next step will be to have two ANSI auditors complete an in-person program audit.

So the question is; why did we invest so much time and effort into this process? The answer is quite simple; we are seeking to build the industry’s most powerful training verification program. We aim to set a new bar for professionals in the industry, one which empowers companies across North America to train key personnel to become safer, more efficient, and more skilled. We seek ANSI accreditation for our programs so that we can show those insurance and commercial facilities management folks that snow professionals mean business.

Snow professionals don’t value training as much as they should because they haven’t been given a good reason to do so – and you can help us change that. What action can you take to help? Here are a few thoughts:
  • Take a look at the Advanced Snow Management program and consider investing in a stronger, more powerful training program for your key managers.
  • Download the SIMA Best Practices Checklist and start checking items off the list.
  • Email and tell her what a great job she has done getting SIMA to this point in the ANSI application process, and tell her to keep pushing hard.
  • Email Jason Case, CSP, SIMA Board President, at and share your thoughts for training in the industry and how SIMA can help make training a game-changer for you.
SIMA Action Alerts are designed to challenge the membership at large to take action and be informed. Please share any thoughts on Action Alerts with, or in the comment section below.


  1. As a Construction Safety Officer I have had to do many accident investigations (in the oil and gas industry) when injuries have occurred. What I find continuously is that lack of training is one of the leading causes of work site accidents, especially to new or young workers.

    Snow removal combines the simplest of industries, driving and moving snow. Look at nearly anyone that finds themselves unemployed for short periods. In winter they will push snow for some extra cash and in summer they will push a lawn mower. Driving and shoveling snow is something that every adult knows how to do without the need for training, or, so they say. If you were to ask yourself, “Who trained me to move snow?” Your answer might be something like, “My dad taught me how to shovel when I was a kid” or “I’ve been shoveling snow for 30 years, I don’t need training.” As far as driving goes, we were taught that at an early age as well. We’ve done our training and we assume that there really isn’t a lot more information to be had in the way of training. However, not only do we need to learn how to efficiently move snow but we must also know how do so safely. This is what a formal training program can provide to workers, the safety aspect of moving snow.

    Training is legislated by law, at least in the province that I work in, and there is probably similar legislation in most other jurisdictions. In Alberta, Canada our Occupational Health and Safety legislation states it like this:

    Competent – in relation to a person, means adequately qualified, suitably trained and with sufficient experience to safely perform work without supervision or with only minimal degree of supervision.

    Your employees are capable of doing their jobs day in and day out, otherwise you wouldn’t have them on staff. They haven’t had any formal training but you couldn’t find better employees, they are good, they are quick and they are making you money. So you ask, “Do they really need any more training?” The answer is “Yes they do.” If an accident should happen on your job site you might have to show that those involved were competent workers or that they have suitable training. Further, if you were the person who trained your workers, you might be asked. “Who trained you?” The whole idea behind training is to provide the work force with the appropriate knowledge and skills so that they can understand and perform their work according to the established policies and procedures. The bottom line is; proper and effective training is mandatory for the protection of your workforce, clientele and perhaps, your business continuity.

    By developing an effective safety program, that includes formal training, you are reducing the human and financial costs of accidents. Plus, companies that have an effective safety program have a competitive edge in the marketplace.

  2. I would look into the training with SIMA more, but your website, is HORRIBLE to navigate. Each time I've contacted SIMA; its excuse after excuse. Who wants to get a PhD to become a snow professional. That's the impression your site gives.